1 About that time King Herod cruelly attacked some who belonged to the church, 2 and he killed James, John’s brother, with the sword. 3 When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 After the arrest, he put him in prison and assigned four squads of four soldiers each to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church.
6 On the night before Herod was to bring him out for execution, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while the sentries in front of the door guarded the prison. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. Striking Peter on the side, he woke him up and said, “Quick, get up!” Then the chains fell off his wrists. 8 “Get dressed,” the angel told him, “and put on your sandals.” And he did so. “Wrap your cloak around you,” he told him, “and follow me.” 9 So he went out and followed, and he did not know that what took place through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 After they passed the first and second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went outside and passed one street, and immediately the angel left him.
11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s grasp and from all that the Jewish people expected.” 12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many had assembled and were praying. 13 He knocked at the door in the gateway, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. 14 She recognized Peter’s voice, and because of her joy, she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gateway.
15 “You’re crazy!” they told her. But she kept insisting that it was true. Then they said, “It’s his angel!” 16 Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astounded.
17 Motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. “Report these things to James and the brothers,” he said. Then he departed and went to a different place.
18 At daylight, there was a great commotion among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter. 19 After Herod had searched and did not find him, he interrogated the guards and ordered their execution. Then Herod went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church.
If you would’ve told me, a preacher's daughter from the south, that the Lord would one day ask me to start a ministry missions project for the strip clubs of our city, I would’ve chuckled while I took another bite out of my fried chicken. But God loves to stretch us, grow us, challenge us, and use us.
When we gathered women leaders from different churches to cast the first vision for what has become Love Nashville, I felt strongly that our evangelistic outreach into these darkest corners of our city were an answer to some mother, or sister, or father's prayer for their girl.
As I think of the challenge that went to our church body during the summer months, to write down the names of the lost we know and pray over them, I’m reminded once again of the power of prayer and the deliverance it brings.
Peter was thrown in prison. James, John's brother, had been killed. Peter had no reason to believe his outcome would be any different.
And yet, tucked away in Acts 12, is this: "So Peter was kept in prison, but (I love that word in the vocabulary of God) prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church” (verse 5).
At the cry of those prayers, an angel of the Lord came down and escorted Peter to his miraculous freedom. Wow, what a way to escape death. And yet, it was the prayers of God's church that I believe created the environment for such a miracle to happen.
God is moved by our prayers. Psalm 18 paints one of the most beautiful and powerful pictures of God's immediate response to our plea.
And yet life gets busy with schedules, drowning out communion. Activity drowns out solace. And neighbors, friends, young people, and strippers still remain in desperate need of an escort to their freedom.
As you continue to pray over your list of the lost you know, remember this story. Heaven is moved by our prayers. Chains are removed. Angels come to the rescue. People are set free.
Could it be that someone's deliverance is waiting on your prayers, on my prayers? Could it be that one day our freedom will wait on the prayers of someone? And oh, how that changes things.
In the words of Jentezen Franklin, the pastor at Free Chapel, let's not create the "unemployment of angels."
- When’s a time you’ve prayed for someone and were able to actually witness the answer to your prayer?
- When’s the last time you needed to know you were being covered in prayer?
- Who are the people you’re praying for now?
- In this season, ask God who He’s asking you to pray for. Then do it. Then watch heaven move.