Max and Ian’s parents are glad we are praying. When we pray to God, we get to see God work. For Mighty Max, as he his battling leukemia and the many ups and downs that his body is going through, we have many items for which to pray. We are praying for his parents to have the peace of God around them. We are asking God for strength for Max’s parents to get through what needs to be gotten through. We are also knocking on heaven’s gate for healing to occur for Max. Since we are praying, we are also going to the local fundraisers to make sure the family has what they need as both Mom and Dad miss work to be with their son.
For Ian, as he is recovering from surgery to remove a cyst on his brain, we also have many items for which to pray. We are praying for Ian to heal well from the surgery. We are praying for his parents to have the peace that passes all understanding as they adjust to this past week’s events.
There is one more item for which we are talking to God in regards to these boys. We are asking Jesus to help them escape the health concerns so that they may serve God. Oh, we are not asking for Max and Ian to become preachers or pastors. We are asking God to allow Max and Ian, plus their families, to speak about what God is doing in these boys’ lives.
A. The church kept on praying for Peter (12:1-5)
1. The apostles, the leaders of the church, are having violence done to them
2. James, one of the sons of Zebedee, is killed
3. Peter is arrested, because it pleases the Jews
4. Peter was guarded by many soldiers – not prison guards!
5. After Passover (including the 7 days of the Festival of Unleavened Bread), Peter was going to be given to the Jews (??)
6. With such a dire situation for Peter, the church was not helpless or hopeless. They prayed for Peter. It wasn’t just one prayer. It wasn’t just a prayer said in passing. The church prayed earnestly. They kept on praying. It was a stretched out prayer. And they kept praying for Peter the entire time he was in prison. I wonder if there are things in our lives that need such prayer. Maybe we are skeptical or we have busy lives and don’t prayer fervently. What could happen if we prayed for stretched out time for anything going on in this world? What would we find out?
B. We would find that God answers prayer (12:6-19)
1. What a dramatic story!
2. The angel smacked Peter on his side!
3. The angel really led Peter out of the prison
4. Yet, those gathered to pray thought it was Peter’s angel knocking at the outer gate at Mary’s house
5. Rhoda told them it was Peter!
6. When they believed Rhoda, and realized God answered their prayer, they let Peter in
7. Peter told them what had happened
8. Peter then goes to another place
9. God does answer prayer. We can keep on praying for answer to come. We keep on praying because it is what followers of Jesus do. If we can binge watch a television show for a whole snow day, then surely we can pray repeatedly and often for good to happen in any given situation. Jesus taught that we ask, seek, and knock. For when we ask, we will get answer. When we seek the good that God has for the people around us, then they get the good that God has for them. As we knock on the door, we keep knocking until someone comes to the door. So, you’ve said a prayer. Maybe this prayer was just a word, maybe it was a text message. Maybe our prayers could be as long as the Harry Potter series! Keeping on praying helps us to remember what Jesus has told us.
C. We also see the word of God keeps advancing (12:20-25)
1. Herod’s life ends
a. His kingdom was given to him by Caesar
b. He killed his enemies and people were afraid of him
2. The word of God continued to advance and gain adherents
3. New people keep on leading the church
4. Refusing to acknowledge God is detrimental to the opponents of God. When we pursue God through prayer, the word of God advances. As followers of Jesus, we get to see more and other people come to know forgiveness through Jesus. God is working among us. And we are not God, which would have been good for Herod Antipas I to recognize.
How can we relate to this story of Peter being delivered from prison? We can discover we too can escape the prisons that are holding us. We can escape the demands of our society so that we can serve God. For us to escape the pressures of our society, we pray fervently, earnestly.
We find time this day to stretch our time in prayer. We find time this week to stretch our praying with other Christians. We find time in our lives to pray for other Christians.
I have found prayer to be beneficial. Every week I pray for you. Sometimes I end up praying for some of you more often than once a week! This stretching of my prayer time with God helps me to remember all the good God has for me. I recommend you pray with your family. I recommend you prayer for your family. I recommend you pray for this church and the church around the world.