“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons–but they are helpless against our prayers.” (J. Sidlow Baxter).
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. Herod Agrippa 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 James, the brother of John, killed (v. 2) which pleased the Jewish leaders immensely (v. 3). Hoping to boost his “approval ratings” even further, Herod had Peter arrested also (v. 3). This was all happening during the days of Unleavened Bread, right after Passover (v. 3), around the same time Jesus was Crucified a decade or so previous. Placed in a dungeon, Peter had 16 soldiers guarding him (4 squads of 4 each). 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. 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.
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.
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Acts 9:1-9Paul’s Conversion
Acts 9:10-22Ananias’ Availability
Acts 9:23-31Barnabas’ Encouragement
Acts 9:32-43Peter Used by God in Joppa to Heal Beloved Dorcas
Acts 10:1-8Cornelius on a Mission for God
Acts 10:9-22God’s Message to Peter through a Vision
Acts 10:23-33Peter Meets Corneilius
Acts 10:34-48Peter Preaches to Cornelius’ Household
Acts 11:1-18Peter’s Defense to the Legalists
Acts 11:19-26Barnabas Seeks Saul to Help with Discipleship
Acts 11:27-2Antioch Believers Send Encouragement to Jerusalem
Acts 12:3-11Continual Prayer Brings Results
Acts 12:12-17Prayer Answered
Acts 12:18-25God’s Judgment on King Herod
Acts 13:1-12Paul Confronts a Sorcerer at Cyprus
Acts 13:4-12Saul (Paul) Confronts a Sorcerer at Cyprus
Acts 13:13-25Paul and Barnabas Say Farewell to John Mark
Acts 13:26-41Paul Preaches the Gospel of the Resurrection
Acts 13:42-52Gentiles are Receptive to Paul’s Message
Acts 14:1-7Opposition in Iconium
Acts 14:8-18Mistaken Identity in Lystra
Acts 14:13-20From “God” to “Stoning” â€“ Paul Still Committed to Preach
Acts 14:19-28A Glimpse of Home
Acts 15:1-11The Jerusalem Council
Acts 15:6-11Jerusalem Councilâ€“Discussion Re: Moses’ Law
Acts 15:12-21A Decision based on God’s Word
Acts 15:22-29A Decision for Unity
Acts 15:30-41A Disagreement about John Mark