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So…Today We Pray.

June 30, 2011

So…today we pray.

 If you will, and my hope is that you will…pull out your Bible, or pull up your Bible app, or go to an online Bible, and Read through Acts 12:1-25…yes, that’s the whole chapter.

 Over the course of the last couple of chapters, things have been going really well for the Church.  Saul, the most vigilant fighter against the faith has been converted, Peter has had a weird dream and seen the door of salvation opened to the Gentiles, and the ends of the earth are hearing and receiving the Gospel.  Then we get to chapter 12…and things take a bit of a turn.  Herod has gotten in on the persecution (most likely to appease his constituents), and he has killed James.  His approval rating went up after that so he arrested Peter with the intention of killing him too.  Now listen…I think we can all agree that being thrown in prison for your faith, chained to some guards, and left there until you are to be killed…is a bad day.  Nobody in their right mind looks at that and thinks, “This is just how I hoped things would go today.”  But, that’s what happened.

 Of course the story doesn’t end there.  What happens next is extraordinary to say the least.  As Peter is in prison, the people begin to pray for him.  They come together, they pray to God, they pray specifically for Peter, and they earnestly seek communion with the Father that He might in His grace deliver Peter.  And here’s the thing…God answers.  It’s almost comical how it plays out.  The “angel of the Lord” comes in, there’s a bright light…Peter doesn’t see it, he’s busy sleeping…so the angel “struck Peter on the side.”  I love that detail.  You know Peter was in some deep sleep if the angel had to sort of nudge him to wake him up.  And even then, after he’s awake…he’s not really awake.  He’s just sort of stumbles around…the angel has to tell him to get dressed…it’s all very real…it’s almost like Peter is a normal guy being woken up in the middle of the night.

 Now, here’s the beautiful thing…God answered the prayers of the people.  Don’t miss that.  In verse 5 we’re told, “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”  It’s not until verse 11 that Peter really understands what’s happening…he’s been delivered…he didn’t escape…he didn’t get released…he was delivered…there’s a difference.

 He shows up at the house and the very people who were praying can’t believe it.  They tell the girl at the door that she’s crazy…their exact words are, “You are out of your mind.”  What’s worse is that they actually seem to think that it is more likely that Peter’s ghost is knocking at the door than that he is standing there himself.  Here’s the thing; why were they so surprised?  This is what they had been praying for.  They had been praying for Peter to be set free.  They wanted this, they hoped for this…they came before the throne of God and asked for this…yet, when it was given to them, they found it too much to believe.  Listen to me…I cannot stress this enough…this is what God does.  He delivers His people.  Well, what about James?  Sometimes, even though it stings, God delivers His people Home, when we still want them to stay here with us.  Our God is a deliverer…He doesn’t enable escape…He picks His children up in His arms and brings them to Himself.  But when we pray…maybe even for a sick child near us…let us have faith to believe that our God is a healer…our God is a deliverer.  So…today we pray.  Let’s not pray without believing…let’s pray without ceasing.

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