What was happening in the early church? Was there freedom to talk about the crucified Jesus? Was there a church to assemble in and sing praises unto God? Were God’s ambassadors prominent and deployed? Was importance placed on prayer? Ah yes, prayer…was there ongoing prayer?
We learn in Acts chapter 12 that Peter was imprisoned for his faith in the Almighty God. What’s more, he proclaimed Him openly. He testified that he knew Jesus Christ. As he traveled, he brought with him good news to share with the people.
Peter was arrested because he was known as one who belonged to the church. (Acts 12:1) There was no other logical explanation or reasoning. King Herod had James put to death, and when Herod saw that the crowd was pleased with what he did, that encouraged him to seize Peter also.
Take heart! The church is on the rise!
We discover in Acts 12:5, that the church was earnestly praying for Peter while he was in prison. How did the fellow believers know all about the circumstances that preceded Peter’s imprisonment? They were there! They were the church! They knew what to do following the circumstances of their fellow believer knowing that he was in perhaps, grave danger. What else could they do but pray? They cared, they were concerned, and they prayed. They assembled together at John’s mother’s house simply to share together as a body of believers and earnestly pray.
Did God answer their earnest prayers? Let’s examine the occurrence at the jail. As Peter was sleeping, an angel appeared and woke him up. When the angel spoke the words, “Quick, get up!” the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. The angel then led Peter out of the prison and cautiously walked past two sets of guards, and out of the prison. They continued further to the Iron Gate that was miraculously opened up by the power of God. The angel continued with him until they walked down the street and reached the edge of the city limits and was safely guided out of the city.
Initially, when Peter was awakened, he thought he was seeing a vision. It wasn’t until after the angel left him that he realized the Lord had rescued him. There was no way that Herod’s people could gloat over Peter’s trial and potential death now. He was safe.
Peter went straight to the house where his fellow believers were praying. Of course, the servant girl heard him at the door but was so amazed and overjoyed that she couldn’t even open the door to let him in. Their earnest prayers were answered. There was victory and celebration in God’s camp that night! And all the while they believed in a great and awesome God!
What was the response and actions of Peter’s fellow believers during this great time of need? Was it to draw together for prayer? There was a commitment to share each other’s burdens. Did Peter know that his church family was off praying for him? There was no time factor. There wasn’t an appointed time set to assemble for a prayer meeting. Although it was a late prayer meeting this prayer was a ‘now’ prayer. When Peter arrived at the house of prayer they were still all awake and in prayer. The results were before their very eyes!!
God’s protection was upon Peter. He was safely led out of the surroundings of the prison. He was released from the inescapable clutch of king Herod to the King of all Kings whose power no one can even fully fathom. But faith and trust in the God who loves, cares and understands and orders the steps of His children, is the God who intervenes when His people gathers to pray. Isn’t that what the power of prayer can do? Isn’t that what praying is searching for? There is tranquility in earnestness with the Almighty!
Copyright Janice Keats