Scripture: Acts 12:1–17
Key verses: (1-5) About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. 3 After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) 4 When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. 5 While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.
Reflection: The church has been growing, spreading throughout the land and beginning to reach the Gentiles. James was an important leader in the church and was the first of the apostles to die. I wonder if his death took the church by surprise. There is no word about the church holding a prayer meeting for James.
In Acts 5, we are told that all the apostles were imprisoned, but an angel came at night to open the doors and let them out. So imagine their shock when James is beheaded, executed so quickly after being put in prison. Then Peter is taken to prison and they are concerned. The church prayed fervently to God for Peter. The church is serious.
The Christians were praying with fervor, an intense and passionate feeling. Those people were on their faces before God.
When was the last time you prayed with fervor?
What are we praying for today as a church?
In a very dramatic fashion, Peter was released from prison and found his way back to where the church was praying. No one answered because they feared it was someone coming for them. When they did they were amazed. They believed God would hear their prayers but prayers are not always answered in the way we expect. This church could hardly believe it when it occurred. Prayer answered.
Thanks be to God.
Prayer: God, hear our prayers today. All day. We pray for those we love and those we have yet to love. We pray for systems that are broken and people working to create new systems. God, hear our prayers today. All day. Amen.
Author: Michelle Thomas-Bush
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].