The atmosphere was electric. Herod was being praised, the unbelieving Jews were thirsty for more blood and Peter happened to be a convenient scapegoat. This is the summary of Acts 12:1-4. Peter has been arrested, and he is surrounded by 16 well trained soldiers in a locked prison behind a locked gate. Surely his destiny is sealed and all hope is gone. It would take a miracle…it would take divine intervention for Peter to walk out of this prison a free man. However, that’s exactly what happened. Notice verse 5 of Acts 12 and notice the word “but”-
So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
The word “but” in the preceding verse is a word of contrast. It links the impossible situation to the improbable solution. That solution is prayer to God! Notice several things with me today:
What Did They Do–They Prayed!
There are many things they could have done. They could have went to Herod’s palace and tried to come up with a solution. They could have tried some type of attack on the prison to set Peter free. They could have given up hope and just walked away. However they chose to PRAY!
How Did They Pray–They Prayed Earnestly!
The word “earnest” is an adjective that means “stretched out.” The KJV translates this word “without ceasing.” However, it means more than just a prayer that is stretched out in length. It is a prayer that is stretched out in intensity and earnestness.
Picture a family surrounding the bed of an accident victim and they have just been told their loved one will not make it through the night unless a miracle takes place. Imagine the “intense and earnest prayer” that may go on as a result. This is the picture we have here. They did not recite a meaningless prayer, but they cried out to God with a broken heart.
Who Did They Pray For–They Prayed for Peter!
They were interceding on Peter’s behalf. They realized he was in prison and realized that in a matter of hours he would probably be dead. However, we understand that because of Peter’s faith in Christ, his execution would only land him in Heaven.
We all know of people who are in far worse prisons than what Peter found himself in. They are in a spiritual prison. They may be in a prison of drugs, alcohol, greed or some other thing that Satan is using to blind them to the Truth of the Gospel.
If the early church was willing to have a passionate prayer meeting for a Christian, how much more should we pray for those who do not know the hope they can have in Christ.
We also see:
Who They Prayed To-They Prayed to God
They did not pray to Herod.
They did not pray to saints.
They prayed directly to God.
They did not go to God as a last resort, but rather a first resort!
Who Prayed–The Church Prayed
The church is not brick, mortar, pews or windows. The church are those who have placed their faith in Christ and have been adopted into the family of God.
Because of sin we cannot expect God to hear our prayers (Isaiah 59:1-2). However, when we trust Christ to forgive us and cleanse us of our sin we have access to God through prayer! The reason we have this access is because of our mediator–Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).
If you read the rest of the story you find out that God did intervene on Peter’s behalf. God opened the door to Peter’s freedom and allowed him to continue to live.
I do not know what type of prison you or your loved ones may be facing today. However, I know that Jesus Christ holds the keys and can set you free to enjoy the life He has planned for you!