Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
I have loved this story for as long as I can remember, but it was certainly no laughing matter for those going through it. It reads like something in one of the “space opera” science fiction novels I like to read, but there was no special technology involved, just the sovereign power of God. It is certainly an illustration of the power of prayer, as well as of how much trouble we have believing that power. The scene where Peter shows up at Mary’s house is downright comical, but no one there at the time was laughing. Peter’s situation seemed totally hopeless, particularly considering that James had already been martyred. The Church’s response to that is given here. I like the way the Japanese here specifies, “The church continued to pray earnestly to God for him.” (emphasis added) In other words, they didn’t just pray once, however earnestly, and then stop. They were applying the lesson Jesus taught with the parable of the persistent widow. (Luke 18:1-8) This is one of the paradoxes of prayer. It would seem that if our faith and heart attitude are correct, then praying once would be sufficient. Actually, it often is, but we don’t know all the spiritual warfare that might be going on unseen, as was described to Daniel. (Daniel 10:12-14) Sometimes the answer to our prayer is beyond this world, and as such, it might seem like our prayers are futile. We are not to give in to despair or grief because of such things, but keep praying and keep trusting. God is always capable of surprising us!
I have not been particularly good at continuing prayer. I’ve tended to feel like if I’ve prayed for something, that should settle it. That is definitely in the realm of hubris! As I have written numbers of times, I can’t say I understand prayer. After all, why would the Creator of the universe listen to us in the first place? And then, what part do our prayers have in what actually happens here on earth, much less in the spiritual realms? However, insisting on understanding is to deny faith, and that is certainly a terrible mistake. I need to let go of my “need to understand” and simply keep praying, just as the Church did in this story. If God were limited to what I could figure out, we’d all be in BIG trouble! One prayer that I am continuing from my parents, and from many other saints, is for the salvation of Japan. On the face of it, that looks about as impossible as Peter’s release from prison, but when God could do one, He can do the other. There have been various encouraging prophecies over the years, but just as with Christ’s return, we don’t know the timing. I am never to give up, whether I see it with my physical eyes or not, but keep trusting, keep praying, and keep offering myself to the Lord for however He might want to use me to that end, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Help me grow in continuing prayer, never giving up but trusting You in every detail, so that Your will may be done in and through me, on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!