“About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also… And… he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him… So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
“Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands… ‘Dress yourself and put on your sandals.’ And he did so. And he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’
“When he realized this, he went to the house… where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind.’ But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, ‘It is his angel!’ But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.” Acts 12:1-16
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 (NKJV)
Violence. Gasping sorrow choked in disbelief. Shock and fear drove the church to its only shelter- prayer- and huddled together, they earnestly beseeched Almighty God for Peter’s strength and deliverance.
God answered, in a big and supernatural way. Humor blends with conviction as we digest the stream of events and the stun among those praying saints. Would we respond any differently?
We think we pray earnestly, but how is that defined if we expect no answer? Why is it we are surprised when God shows up and answers our prayers by displaying His muscle, creativity, grace, and splendor? Are we fervent only in our wants or repetition, or in our faith that God is able, shapes our desires, can do anything, and will surely do what is best?
We can count on God to keep His word regarding prayer. While we may be surprised at the way He answers, we should never be surprised that He does. (Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:6; 7:7-11; 21:22; John 16:23-24; Romans 8:26-27)
Lord, keep me on my knees in earnest prayer, and on tiptoe for Your answers. Purify and translate my desires into God-honoring prayers, then show forth Your majesty.