Acts 12:5 (NIV)
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
If you were looking on the outside of this situation you might have concluded that the church was in desperate times. The evidence would have all pointed to that being the truth. There would be no detractors from that conclusion.
This would be true if it were not for a few who believed otherwise. James had already lost his head at the hand of Herod and now Peter was next.
Take a good long look at how the early church responded to the evidence. Did they throw up their hands and say, “Well it was good while it lasted?”
Did they all just go home and go about their ways they had known before they met Jesus? What did they do when all the evidence pointed to their certain defeat?
Consider our text, “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to for him.” The question I want to ask is, “Who was keeping Peter in prison?”
The answer is certainly not the Roman guards. It did appear that way but it most certainly could not have been. How can I say this? Who was it that let him out of prison? None other than an angel of the Lord. If it was an angel of the Lord who let him out then who was it that put him in there? Great question don’t you think?
God put Peter in prison to teach the early church something about his power. Who was more powerful than Rome? Who could do what he wanted with sixteen guards guarding one of his chosen vessels?
I see something very interesting here in this account. When Peter is in prison awaiting his certain execution chained in a Roman jail surrounded by sixteen guards what do we see him doing?
Sleeping soundly. How can this be? How does one sleep soundly while you are waiting for your execution? What did Peter know that the others may not have known? Back in Acts chapter five, we read of another time when he was in prison when an angel appeared and released him from prison.
Did he have any assurance he would be rescued again? Probably not, he had just witnessed James execution but he slept deeply anyway.
Meanwhile, the church was praying for him. But note how they were praying for him, “earnestly.” God often moves in the hearts of his people to pray in accordance with his desire. Did the church not pray for James while he was in prison? You can sure they did pray. Did they pray for his release?
Perhaps, but the answer came back to be a no.
Now they were faced with a similar circumstance but the outcome was vastly different, Peter was released.
In both cases, God was glorified. In the death of James God was glorified by how James refused to compromise his message and gave his life as a witness to all those looking on. This time God would be glorified by demonstrating through the prayers of the church that Rome was impotent before the prayers of a purified, trusting church.
When you look over the situations in our world do not let your heart become defeated or depressed, God will work out his own glory in each and every situation and he has determined to move his saints to accomplish his will through their prayers.
Let us look at the world and then fix our eyes on Jesus and plead for the glory of God to be seen in our day.
Join the gathered church today as we cry out for the glory of God to cover the earth as waters cover the sea.