TEXT: Acts 12:5-11
5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 221 messages in this series.
This is message #222 titled, The Power of the Collective Prayer of the Church in the Face of Impossible Situations, Part 3.
Today, we continue looking at the story of the early church during a time of great persecution. Peter, one of the church’s most prominent leaders, has been arrested, thrown in prison, and scheduled to be executed after the Passover. Another disciple, James, had already been killed. The church’s response to these events was earnest prayer to God — “prayer made without ceasing.”
From Acts 12, we see that God indeed answered their prayers. He sent an angel to free Peter from Herod’s prison.
Notice first, from this passage, Peter’s lack of concern regarding his own circumstances. Peter “was sleeping between two soldiers” when the angel arrived. Peter was not up worrying about his future though certain death loomed over his head. The Psalmist wrote that God “giveth his beloved sleep.” In fact, Peter was in such a deep sleep that the angel had to ‘smite him’ in order to wake him up. No doubt, Peter prayed for God’s will to be done. But he was able to sleep that night, in prison, chained between two soldiers, because he had faith in God. Not necessarily faith that God would deliver him, but faith that God was in control and that, at this moment, he was right where God wanted him to be. Peter likely knew that the rest of the church was praying for him as well and that would have brought comfort to his soul. Like Daniel in the lions’ den, Peter knew that no one could touch him, harm him, or kill him unless it was within God’s timing. As one commentator put it, until it was God’s time for him to die, Peter was invincible.
The second thing we notice from this passage is Peter’s immediate obedience when his answer came. When the angel arrived in the prison cell and freed him from his chains, he gave Peter a series of commands: “Arise up quickly. Gird thyself. Bind on thy sandals.” The Bible says, “And so Peter did.” Then the angel says, “Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.” And the Bible records, “Peter went out, and followed him.” Peter did not stop to question what was happening to him. He did not ask for an explanation. Nor did he ask to know what happens next. He just obeyed. Peter did not even fully understand what was going on for the Bible says he “wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.” Peter was thinking that he was in some kind of trance or dream as he was when he saw the sheet of animals drop down from Heaven some time previously. Perhaps it was the outcome of that prior experience that had taught him not to question what God was doing even if it did not seem to be occurring by natural means.
It was not until the angel had led Peter past the two guard posts and the gate of the prison and into the city that Peter realized what was happening to Him was real. The Bible says, “When Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.” Herod’s plan to use Peter’s death to boost himself politically had been thwarted. The Jews’ expectation of Peter’s death being a major blow to the followers of Jesus had been denied.
We learn from Peter’s example that if we have committed everything in our lives to the Lord through prayer, we do not have to worry about our future. If we know that everything is in His hands, we can sleep peacefully in the lions’ den. And when God does begin to work on our behalf, we ought to obey Him and go along with His plan even though we may not fully understand it. As Dora Greenwell wrote:
I am not skilled to understand
What God hath willed, what God hath planned;
I only know at His right hand
Stands One who is my Savior.
It is this One, our Savior who stands at God’s right hand, who gives us the right and privilege to take all of our requests, concerns, and troubles to Him in prayer.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.