Jesus, sometimes I forget to stop and thank You when You answer my prayers. So I say now, thank You.
Read Acts 12:1–19a
Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison
12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”
12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.
Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIt is easy to forget when our prayers have been answered. Think back to some prayers you’ve prayed. How were they answered?
In today’s passage the Church faces a dire situation. James, one of Jesus’ key disciples, had been executed by King Herod Agrippa I and now Peter was in prison facing the same fate (1–4).
We are told the Church prayed earnestly (5) – and their prayers were answered, which might make us think these Christians were people of great faith. However, when told Peter had escaped and was outside the door, they did not believe it even though they had just been praying for his safety (14,15)!
Sometimes people are put off prayer because they don’t think they have enough faith. Today’s story shows us that our faith does not have to be flawless for our prayers to be answered. The Christians praying for Peter clearly did not believe their prayers would produce such dramatic results, yet God still acted. Perhaps their faith had been shaken by what had happened to James (2); we often don’t understand why some prayers are answered, and others don’t seem to get the answers we’d like. Yet even if we have had knock-backs in prayer and are struggling to believe, today’s story shows that God can take our imperfect faith and bring about great things when we pray – so don’t give up!
How do you feel about prayer? Be honest with God about your struggles. Is there a particular answer to prayer you’ve been waiting on for a long time? Take this time to surrender it to God once more.
Lord, help me to believe my prayers can have great impact for Your kingdom.