Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
Intro: Notice the climate that this church was in. Notice the conditions in which they practiced PERSISTENT PRAYING.
They prayed in spite of the:
A. Excruciating Casualties
James was martyred.
His loss had to be overwhelming.
The morale at this point would have been at an all-time low.
But that didn’t stop them from praying.
No doubt they had prayed for James, and he died anyway.
No doubt they had prayed for his release, but God saw fit to take him home.
B. Escalating Conflict
It started with Herod stretching forth his hand to vex certain of the church.
He killed James the brother of John.
That did not satisfy his thirst for blood.
He saw it pleased the Jews, and he PROCEEDED FURTHER.
The world, the devil, and the opposition will not be satisfied with one casualty, or several.
They will continue to escalate.
Make no mistake – the government is not satisfied that many churches shut down last year.
They are not satisfied that livestream services are now considered “church” by many Christians.
They are not happy that thousands of so-called Christians got out of church last year.
They will continue to escalate their opposition to the church.
They will not stop until there are no more Bible-preaching churches.
They will not stop until they’ve silenced every single God-called preacher.
C. Excessive Confinement
Peter was in prison.
- His ministry opportunities were limited.
- His ability to preach was inhibited.
- His influence was minimized.
But that wasn’t enough.
Herod delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers.
That is sixteen trained warriors that were assigned to keep Peter.
This demonstrated the level of intimidation that Peter posed to even King Herod.
The fear that they had of Peter and the church is plain to see.
Why would they designate so much manpower to just one preacher?
Make no mistake – a preacher that won’t stop preaching is a source of great dismay to the heathen.
Furthermore, they made him sleep between two soldiers, bound with two chains.
D. Expected Collapse
Verse 11 says that God had delivered out of the hand of Herod AND from all the expectation of the people.
The intentions of Herod were clear – to shut down the church.
He wanted to stop what God was doing.
And the Jews were glad about it.
When he killed James, it pleased the Jews – vs. 3
His plans were to bring Peter TO THE PEOPLE – vs. 4
Herod’s expectation as well as the expectation of the people was the ultimate collapse of the church.
When we practice Persistent Praying, it will accomplish several things:
I. Orchestrate Celestial Deliverance – vs. 7-11
- 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
- 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
- 9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
- 10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
- 11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
We hear it often, but I want to remind you tonight: Prayer moves the heart that moves the hand that moves the world.
Prayer recruits the power of Heaven.
- Daniel 6:22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
God sent an angel of the Lord came in verse 7.
A. Invaded the Captivity – “And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him…”
B. Illuminated the Cell – “…and a light shined in the prison…”
C. Initiated the Contact – “…and he smote Peter on the side…”
D. Invalidated the Chains – “…And his chains fell off from his hands.”
When we practice Persistent Praying, it will…
II. Open Closed Doors – vs. 10
Verse 10 – they went out past the first and second ward then they came to the iron gate that led to the city.
God can open iron-clad gates – doors that nobody else can open.
- They didn’t have to push on them to open them.
- They didn’t have to get out a prybar to open them.
- They didn’t have to beg, borrow or steal the keys.
The people of God engaged in PERSISTENT PRAYING and God opened closed doors!!
Prayer STILL opens closed doors!
- Colossians 4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
When we practice Persistent Praying, it will…
III. Overcome Carnal Doubts – vs. 14, 16
I never cease to be amazed at these Christian’s response to answered prayer.
Even while many were gathered together praying, they did not believe Rhoda when she told them Peter was free.
They accused her of being mad.
The only thing that makes sense is that with the “many” gathered there, together they had the faith of a mustard seed!!
Even when we struggle to believe, we should still engage in PERSISTENT PRAYING!
When we practice Persistent Praying, the church will…
IV. Outlive Corrupt Detractors – vs. 23-24 Herod died; the word of God grew and was multiplied.
Herod was a wicked, bloodthirsty enemy of the church.
He was obsessed with pleasing the crowd.
He was obsessed with his image and what people thought of him.
He made up his mind to destroy the church by killing its leaders.
He killed James.
He apprehended Peter and intended to bring him before the people.
He gloried in people’s perception of him as a god.
And what happened?
The angel of the Lord showed up.
- INTERESTING TRUTH:
- An angel of the Lord smote Peter in verse 7; an angel of the Lord also smote Herod in verse 23.
- The angel that smote Peter woke him up; the angel that smote Herod put him to sleep.
- The angel that smote Peter delivered him; the angel that smote Herod destroyed him.
The very man that had spent all his time trying to destroy the church was himself destroyed.
God pulled the mask off and showed the world just how corrupt, how rotten he really was.
He was eaten of worms.
But Peter lived on. The church lived on. The word of God grew and was multiplied.
The next chapter, missionaries were sent from the church for the first time.
The EXPECTED COLLAPSE that Herod and the Jews were hoping for became an EXPANDING CHURCH.
CASUALTIES were replaced with CONVERTS.
How important was the PERSISTENT PRAYING OF THE CHURCH in Acts 12?? We will never be able to calculate it!