Acts 12: 1-17Written by kathleen on Jul 05, 2015 in - No Comments
Acts 12: 1-17
What If People Pray
Casting Crowns sing a song that says this: ”What if His people prayed” ”And those who bear His name” ”Would humbly seek His face” ”And turn from their own way” ”And what would happen if we prayed” ”For those raised up to lead the way” ”Then maybe kids in school could pray” ”And unborn children see light of day” ”What if His people prayed” MANY amazing things will happen IF GOD’S PEOPLE WILL PRAY!! Throughout the Book of Acts we see the amazing power that was experienced by the early church. Throughout church history the men & women of God have experienced great power. We have all read of the great work that God did through men like: * D.L Moody * Billy Sunday *Charles Finney o* C.H Spurgeon * John Wesley * Chuck Smith * Billy Graham and others Because of the power of prayer 1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. No doubt, this harassment was done because it was politically popular for Herod although perhaps quite accidentally by ordering James put to death by the sword; he gained the approval of the Jews so he decided to go after Peter next. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Knowing it was against Jewish law to kill a man during Passover, Herod intends to wait until after Passover to execute Peter. Knowing Peter (with the other apostles) had mysteriously escaped from prison before (Acts 5:17-21), Herod assigns a high-security detail to guard Peter. (4 teams of 4 on a 6 hour watch.) 5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. This was a dark time; one of the leaders of the church had been murdered and another was in prison and facing death. There is an important word in this verse – “Peter therefore was kept in prison: BUT” – But what? BUT PRAYER!!! We read that prayer was made of the church “with out ceasing unto God”. From this example there are some things about prayer we should look at:
- Our Prayers Must Be Intentional – This church had one goal PETER’S RELEASE! They sought Peter’s release from jail – This church prayer time was focused!
The ENTIRE CHURCH was gathered together to fervently pray for one of their own. Their love and concern for a brother in Christ and the situation was evident by their attendance. When we have the opportunity to go boldly before the throne on behalf of one another! Our prayers should be “Intentional and constant! In this verse the word constant also has the idea of literally of someone stretching out all they can for something as in the stretching of a muscle to its limits.” this same word is used for the agonizing prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This type of prayer has power because it demonstrates that our heart cares passionately about the things God cares about and that his will on earth be done not ours!
- Our Prayers should reveal a passion for God and His kingdom This prayer was a FERVENT prayer and has the idea of praying with great urgency! The word fervent is having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, and enthusiasm, James says in his epistle James 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Effectual fervent prayer is prayer that’s from the heart; the prayer that often rises out of desperation, out of tremendous need. When we find ourselves in this type of situation it’s not to get God’s attention; but to grow in a deeper relationship with Him which produces good fruit in us as we focus even more on the Lord. The Lord has chosen to work through the avenue of prayer in order to teach us how to talk to Him, and depend on Him, so that we may experience him in an intimate way as we seek His heart by revealing ours, and developing a dependence on Him!
- Corporate prayer will become Intimate This early church joined together to seek help for their brother and leader. The beauty in this type of prayer is the intimacy and unity of the church body. They were all together in one accord bowing humbly before God and making their request known! and God heard them and moved in GREAT POWER!!!
Concerning prayer so far we have seen The Reason for it; the Responsibility in it, now lets see: THE RESULT OF IT – 6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. While the church is gathered together praying, Peter is: in prison between 2 soldiers in chains SOUND ASLEEP! That is the kind of peace that Noah had when the rain started to fall. That is the kind of peace that Daniel had in the lions den That is the kind of peace that the 3 Hebrew Children had in the fiery furnace That is the kind of peace that you can have when troubles come your way if you are a child of God! Peter knew that God was in control! (He had Jesus’ promise that he would be old in John 21) What is the worse thing that could have happened to him? He would have been beheaded and went to be with his Savior! Meanwhile back at the church they were STILL PRAYING!! Remember the song “What If His People Prayed”? Well we will see in the next few verses that “When God’s People Pray”: Prayers Will Be Answered; People Will Be Amazed; God’s Power Will Appear A. Prayers Will Be Answered 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me. The Angel of the Lord appeared before Peter. He struck Peter on the side and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Notice this – the angel said unto him, “Gird thyself, and tie on your sandals” Peter was not worried about anything… He has kicked his shoes off and made himself at home! When God’s people pray those prayers WILL BE ANSWERED
- People Will Be Amazed
You may be facing an issue that seems impossible… PRAY! There may be times when you don’t feel like praying… PRAY! There may be times when you don’t think you are getting through continue to PRAY! Many people may be amazed at answered prayers. The enemies may be amazed. The person the prayer is about may be amazed. Those who are praying the prayer may be amazed. We find that this is the case in this story. 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.” At first Peter didn’t even know what was going on; his confusion may have been as a result of the deep sleep that he was experiencing Regardless, he came to himself and realized that the Lord had brought him out! He responded to the Lord’s leading even when he wasn’t sure of all that was happening. What if Peter, sitting in prison, had said, “Wow, what a dream,” and then continued sitting there? He would have been dead before his time. You see, even though Peter wasn’t sure what he was seeing was reality, he acted on it as if it were. I wonder how many of us remain spiritually imprisoned because, although we hear teachings, Bible studies and exhortations, prophecies and encouragement; we even take notes and nod our heads in agreement, we just sit in our cells thinking they must be dreams. Our Christian culture says, “Take it easy.” The Holy Spirit says, “Take a chance.” We’ll never experience what God intends us to enjoy until we follow what He lays on our hearts by stepping out in faith. Now, sometimes when we step out, we find it was only a vision after all. That’s okay. Proverbs 14 says an empty stable stays clean, but an empty stable also brings no profits. Follow the Lord’s leading even if it seems like only a vision. The worst that could happen is that you learn that‘s not what was supposed to happen; But the best that could happen is, like Peter, you could be set free! 12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.” 16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter went to John Mark’s mother’s house This is where the church was gathered to pray. He knocked on the door of the gate A girl named Rhoda heard his voice and was so excited that she didn’t even let him in. Rhoda runs into the house and says PETER IS HERE! Those who were present said “Rhoda, you are CRAZY” She insisted and they assumed it was his Angel. So while the argument is going on Peter is still outside knowing on the gate! When they finally got up and saw Peter they were astonished. Peter called them over and explained the miraculous work that God had done in prison. Even so, they were amazed when they saw that God had done what they had asked Him to do! Many times we call on God to move in a mighty way and when He does; we are amazed and just can’t seem to grasp the fact that He heard our prayer. What we can’t seem to understand is that God always works in marvelous ways and we should always be amazed by His power demonstrated in answered prayers. We should not only be amazed, but we should be humbled at the fact that we can go before the throne and make our request known to Almighty God. And that He would respond in such a mighty way! Sometimes there is an over emphasis on our faith as a necessity for answered prayer. But here in v16 shows they didn’t have much faith! And though there was a lack of faith in their prayers, still God answered the prayers. These early believers are just like you and me! Here they are, praying fervently for Peter’s release, yet while he’s standing right outside their door they can’t believe it!! This story encourages because it shows that the Lord responds to prayer even when it’s not accompanied by a great deal of faith. (Contrary to those who teach that things didn’t work out like you wanted because you didn’t have enough faith) These believers were praying fervently, passionately, and intensely, but you cannot say they were praying with great of faith, since they didn’t even have enough faith to believe Peter was free when he was knocking at their gate! There are times I might pray fervently, even intensely but there are also times I’m not sure anything’s going to happen. This story tells me that’s okay. God can still work through a tiny piece of faith. Jesus said faith the size of a mustard seed—just a tiny bit of faith—can move mountains. If you have faith enough just to pray, things can happen. Doors can open. Sometimes it takes only enough faith to pray for a miracle to happen. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.