Continual Prayer Brings Results

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons–but they are helpless against our prayers.” (J. Sidlow Baxter).

Prayer
Perhaps you have heard it said, “Never underestimate the power of prayer.” In this exciting drama of Acts chapter 12 you can see the reality of this statement. In fact, it tells us much about prayer. In verse five we read that prayer was made:
  1. To God - the aim
  2. In earnest - emphasizing the seriousness of prayer
  3. By the church - the source
  4. For Peter - the object
In this chapter a new wave of persecution, instigated by King Herod, broke out against the Church, and especially against its leaders (v. 1). Herod Agrippa of this chapter was a direct descendant of the Maccabees, through his mother Mariamne. He had been educated at Rome, but he deliberately cultivated the good graces of the Jewish people by meticulously keeping the Law and all Jewish observances. For these reasons he was popular with the people; and it was no doubt in order to achieve further popularity with the orthodox Jews that he decided to attack the Christian Church and its leaders. Herod had arrested James and Peter, executing James, and keeping Peter in a dungeon (vv. 2-4). Sixteen soldiers, four for each watch, were stationed to keep guard over Peter. Two soldiers were chained to him and two watched the doors. Evidently the authorities remembered the last time Peter had been arrested, and how he had mysteriously escaped from jail, and they were not about to let that happen again.

In the meantime the church was praying, and in answer to their prayers (v. 5) God supernaturally awakened Peter from a sound sleep (v. 6). He caused the chains to fall from his wrists, kept the guards asleep, and opened the iron gates (vv. 7-11). This certainly demonstrates how the power of God, in direct answer to prayer, is greater than that of any Herod.

Application

Lord, help me to think about some real answers to prayer I have had. Also help me to bring to my mind some urgent prayer requests.

Acts 12:1-11 (English Standard Version)

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me." And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."

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