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).


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.

Acts 12:3-11 (English Standard Version)

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