Text: Acts 12:1-18
Theme: The key difference maker between a bad and good outcome could be prayer.
Key verses: “About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter…Herod intended to bring Peter out for a public trial after the Passover. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter (v. 1-7a). “So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening (v. 9). “Peter finally came to his senses. ‘It’s really true!’ he said. ‘The Lord has sent his angels and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!’ When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary…where many had gathered for prayer” (v. 11-12).
What God said to me: Prayer matters. Prayer works. I hear the prayers of my saints, plain and simple, and I answer those prayers according to my will. There is no record of a group of my people gathering to pray for James. But they clearly did pray for Peter. How might that story have turned out differently if the church had prayed for James’ release? What if they had not prayed for Peter to be set free? Dwayne, you need to know what you really believe about prayer. Is it needed or not? Or is it coincidental at best– a mere crutch and comfort that makes little or no difference to the God of Gods? Do you think I was not serious when I said in my Word, “Ask and you shall receive,” and “You have not because you ask not”? My Word is replete with promises of answered prayer. Remember when Solomon prayed and dedicated the new temple? I said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” Dwayne, I expect you to pray and ask me for what you need. Pray and ask me to intervene in the affairs of men. When you pray, I will answer. You must ask for things that bring me glory and much fruit, and you must submit to my will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Those are my only stipulations on your requests. Jesus told his disciples, “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples.” This is your assignment. Get on your knees and pray that heaven comes down on ReFOCUS, on your mission trips, on your finances, on your family and neighbors and community, on NLW. I can do anything. I can send an angel right past prison guards to set my captive free. Nothing is too difficult for me. Do you believe this? Then ask me for it. Will your story end more like that of James or of Peter? The difference might simply come down to if and who is praying for you.
What I said to God: Wow, Lord. I am blown away by what You have shown me today. I so needed this divine kick in the pants. I confess my entertainment of doubts and fears and thoughts of giving up the race. Please renew my strength and build up my most holy faith. Create in me a clean heart, O God. A pure and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Hear the prayers of your servants. Revive Your people once again. And let it begin in me.