Day 24: Prayer Works (Acts 12:1-19)
Today’s Passage: Acts 12:1-19
Sounds trite. Sounds religious. Sounds obvious.
Here is another obvious observation —we don’t pray enough.
Before I write to people who pray to Jesus, let me write to those who don’t and who are possibly seeking to know about Jesus. Let me ask, “What do you think about prayer?”
As Jesus’ followers, we believe (because Jesus explained it to us in John 16-18) that God hears our prayers. In fact, God answers our prayers. And beyond that, we believe that when we seek what God seeks, our prayers will be answered.
Can we pause and just acknowledge how wild this idea of prayer really is?
I am suggesting that you and I can have a relationship with the omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of the universe, in a way similar to how we have relationships with human beings.
As if that is not crazy enough, we profess that God listens to us, and in fact intervenes.
In Acts chapter 12 we read of the worldly reaction to a movement of God; resistance and persecution—and we read about the reaction of Jesus’ followers; prayer.
“The king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.” James is killed. Peter is imprisoned. The opposition, King Herod, uses a tried and proven method. Cut off the head of the movement and it will die. There is only one flaw in Herod’s plan. He has not, and can not, cut off the head of Jesus.
The church unleashes its ultimate weapon—prayer. It is our ultimate weapon. The text is clear. “They prayed earnestly…” I don’t want to bore you with the Greek, but it is the same word used to describe Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he died for the sins of the world.
Their prayer was that intense. Their prayer was answered.
Dr. Luke makes it abundantly clear that Peter’s rescue is of God, and not man. The angels orchestrate the jail break. The text has Peter chained up doubly. Normally there would only be one guard and one arm shackled. Herod has taken no chances; Peter has each arm chained.
Beyond Peter being doubly jailed, he all but sleeps through his own escape. The text makes clear that Peter was a partially unconscious bystander. His involvement? To get dressed. And his wardrobing is even spelled out!
It is stunning, this answer to prayer. Everything about the text tells us of God.
Which is why Peter says, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.”
In many places in Scripture, for example in Hebrews 3:13, we are told, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
We share testimony. Not to brag, but to remember all the times God has moved. So that in moments of trial, we will be strong. We need to more than experience multiple moments of God working in our lives, we need to remember them.
In Matthew 13:52 we read, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of the house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” We are to remember, to bring out the treasures of past answered prayers, and in so doing, remain strong.
What treasures of past answered prayers do you have?
If you are interested in thinking more about prayer, I love this short book which is a collection of writing from C.S. Lewis on prayer.