Friday, July 6, 2012

Prayer Changes Things!

1 About that time King Herod Agrippa (the son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great) began to persecute some believers in the church. … 3 he also arrested Peter. … 4 Then he imprisoned him (Peter), placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. 5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly (fervently) for him. 6 The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. 7 Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. … 9 So Peter left the cell, following the angel. … 11 Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent His angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!” 12 When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. 13 He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” … 17 He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. Acts 12:1-19 (NLT).

This Scripture passage proves that prayer changes things! King Herod Agrippa began persecuting the church. This Herod was the son of Aristobulus, nephew of Herod Antipas and grandson of Herod the Great.  Herod's planned to kill Peter. While imprisoned, Herod had Peter guarded by four squads of soldiers, thus making Peter’s escape humanly impossible. In Roman military procedure, four soldiers comprised a quaternion or squad. Thus, Herod had Peter under the charge of sixteen soldiers throughout the night.

The imprisonment of Peter did not discourage the church assembly. The believers prayed very earnestly and intensely for Peter's safety (see James 5:16). God answered the prayers of these believers, even as they prayed. God sent His holy angel to rescue Peter from jail. While sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two sturdy chains, guards standing just outside the door, God led Peter out of jail and reunited him with his praying friends.

However, when Peter arrived to tell his friends the good news, his friends did not believe. Rhoda was so surprised when Peter arrived at the door that she left him standing outside at the closed door. Peter’s fellow believers were amazed by God’s answered to their prayers (Acts 12:5). Evidently the believers did not believe God could answer in this miraculous way or so fast.

This escape was indeed a miracle of God because of the prayers of righteous saints (James 5:16). The earnest prayer of the church significantly affected the outcome of these events. In fact, Jesus taught us to always pray, even if our faith is weak. So pray often, pray persistently and pray with confidence to God! God is always in control. God answers the earnest prayers of His people (see Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:1-13; Luke 18:1-8; John 15:7; Acts 12:6-17; Philippians 4:6-7; James 5:16; 1 John 3:22). Remember that nothing is too hard for God (see also Acts 4:27-31; Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37; Luke 18:27). God answers the prayers of those who diligently seek and do His will.

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