Over the years I have been involved in well over a thousand church prayer meetings. Some of them have had needs that were very serious, urgent, and seemingly impossible, but never as dramatic as what we see in Acts 12. Here, the early church is facing persecution at the highest level with Herod Agrippa and his politically motivated agenda to gain the favor of the Jews. The Apostle James, the brother of John, has just been killed and now Peter has been taken prisoner and is to be executed the next day. The situation is dire with the fate of the church seemingly in peril...and then God steps in.
The next words, "but prayer," change everything. Never underestimate the power of a praying church! The Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson said, "The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel."
We have a difficult balance to maintain in this life. We live in a natural world, guided by natural laws, and yet we serve an all-powerful creator God, who can and has, overruled the laws of nature (miracles). The amazing part of God's plan is that He uses the prayers of the saints to accomplish His purposes.
Allow me to share some powerful principles of prayer that can transform your life:
Prayer is the first resort, not the last. Prayer must be our first inclination. It must become so natural that it becomes an automatic response. "I must stop and pray about this right now!" Unfortunately, this is usually not our first inclination. We often pray after we've exhausted all of our own means of rescue.
Pray passionately, even when you don't feel like it. Prayer should be specific, focused, and heartfelt.
Pray with persistence. Don't give up. These early Christians were praying and nothing was seemingly happening. When the time was right, God answered.
Pray with others. There is power in united prayer.
Pray with faith in God, regardless of His answer. Keep in mind that the church must have also prayed just as intensely for James. True faith in prayer hinges on our trust in God regardless of the outcome.
The early church had no “political clout” or friends in high places to “pull strings” for them. Instead, they went to the highest throne of all, the throne of grace, and so can you! Press on! Pastor Brian Richard