Have you ever been asked to pray for someone? As Christians, we’ve all experienced this moment.
Friend: Hey, I have a big job interview tomorrow. Can you pray for me?
You: Of course! I’ll be praying for you to get a great job!
The conversation ends. You get home with this nagging feeling that you’re forgetting something. The next day, usually 20 minutes past the requested prayer window has closed, we find ourselves hitting our forehead as the conversation comes back to us. Oh no, we think, with a pained look on our face. Then we, for those of us that have had this happen too many times, shrug our shoulders.
Why? Why do we forget to pray for people?
Is it be because we don’t really believe that our prayer will change the outcome of the situation?
Peter’s Prayer Group
In Acts 12 we come across the story of King Herod Agrippa I persecuting the early Christian believers. Herod is looking for a way to boost his popularity and sees that persecuting Christians might work. In fact, it is working. Stephen had just been executed a few years ago (Acts 7:54-60). James, the brother of John, becomes the first of the disciples/apostles to become martyred a few years later in Acts 12:1-2.
We can imagine that John and the rest of the apostles are a bit shocked. I know I would be!
They had seen the church grow over the past 5 to 10 years since Jesus had ascended and they had been filled with the Holy Spirit. Stephen had been martyred early on, but Paul had been incredibly converted, changing him from a persecutor to an apostle. They had a few setbacks, but the church had grown tremendously in a short time.
In this moment of persecution, the words of Jesus must have come back to the apostles from Mark 10:29-31 when He promised that hardships and persecution would come against them. They had lost Stephen and James, an experience they didn’t want to experience again with Peter.
Yet King Herod sees that the Jews that are against the Christians are pleased with the death of James and he precedes to arrest Peter.
Why This Story?
In Acts 12:5 we come to the point of this story. As Peter was kept in prison, the church gathered to earnestly pray for him.
They didn’t forget. They didn’t get so caught up in the day or themselves. Instead, they put everything else aside and gathered together to pray from Peter to be rescued.
And he was!
Why Was Peter Rescued?
Did Peter get rescued because the church prayed for him? Does that mean that the church didn’t pray for James?
We, of course, can’t answer this but the point is that the earnest prayers of the church (James 5:16) moved God’s heart and He sent an angel to rescue Peter.
The church prays earnestly and Peter is miraculously saved from death. The words of Jesus continue to be fulfilled as the apostles face persecution for the sake of the Gospel.
A Call to Prayer
This is a strong reminder for us to continue interceding, to pray for one another, and pray for the seemingly mundane or unimportant things of life. We see that God answers prayer (and wants to) all throughout scripture and we know He still answers prayer (and wants to) today.
When we pray for (you fill in the blank), we know that God hears our prayers and intervenes in the situation.
If you’re looking for a formula, it’s quite clear: PRAY! Bring your situation, your friend’s situation, and your desires before God and see what He does in response to your decision to seek Him first!
I want to leave you with a couple of Scriptures to look at and contemplate. Prayer is a big deal, something we need to be reminded of from time to time. Pay attention in these verses to prayer and how God clearly responds to prayer.
The Lord utters His voice before His army; Surely His camp is very great, For strong is he who carries out His word. The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome, And who can endure it? “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God?
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear your opinion! Leave a comment below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a conversation!