BIBLE READING: ACTS 12
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
What a story in this verse. Herod had just decided to really persecute the church. Herod has just killed James, and now decided to imprison Peter. When Herod did, he assigned sixteen soldiers to accompany, guard, and watch Peter. However, the story was not over. Don’t you just love verse five?
“ Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”
While Peter was in prison, the church was praying. Prayer still works, and groups of people that are praying together still works. May I remind you:
* Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Sure enough, God was in the midst of them. This passage says that while Peter was in shackles, the Angel of the Lord showed up. He woke Peter up, told Peter to get his shoes and clothes on, and to follow right out of that prison and right in the midst of all sixteen soldiers. Wow! How amazing! So, Peter headed to where the church was praying.
* 12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
Then when Peter showed up at the prayer meeting and knocked on the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to the gate. When she saw Peter, she ran to the prayer meeting to tell everyone their prayers were answered, but they didn’t believe her. Isn’t that just like us? Then finally when the men came out and saw Peter, they believed. Great, true story and great lessons for us to learn. Consider something with me before we close.
In the middle of this miracle, there is a vastly different result we need to look at. Herod had just killed, with the sword, James the brother of John. As we see God miraculously deliver Peter, we must remember that that was not the result for James. My point is this, there are some things that will not change just because we pray. While prayer does change things, we do not pray to change things. We pray to commune with God, to make request to God, and to plead for the furtherance of His will. God’s will was to honor the prayers of the church and deliver Peter from prison. But it was not God’s will to deliver James from the sword. You and I cannot become defeated because things don’t change when we pray. As we are faithful to pray as we are commanded to do, we must also show trust in the sovereignty of God