by Shaun Caudill
Peter was in an impossible situation. In Acts 12, the Bible tells us that Herod had killed James, and there were particular Jews who had loved that decision. Because of their accolades, Herod decided to wreak more havoc on the Christians. So, he arrested Peter and threw him in prison. Peter now found himself surrounded by four squads of soldiers and chained, with two chains, in between two soldiers. In the near future, Herod planned to present Peter to the masses and let them decide what they wanted to do with him (spoiler: the crowds would have demanded his death). What could Peter do? What could the church do? They did not have the strength to stand against such overwhelming odds. In verse five, we have our answer. The church began to pray. They began praying for Peter, but not just praying…praying earnestly.
The word earnest means to have a passionate desire in pursuit of an object. The church was passionate in seeing God work on Peter’s behalf because they knew that God was their only hope. The Bible does not say exactly what they prayed for on Peter’s behalf. They might have been praying he be freed from prison, or they could have been praying that he preach the Gospel boldly. Maybe they were praying for strength for him to be strong and not deny Jesus as he was surely going to be executed, but whatever they were praying for, they were praying earnestly to God. And what happened next? Peter was supernaturally freed from prison! It was such a miraculous event that even when he showed up to the house where they were still praying for him, they didn’t even believe it was him
There are times when we pray that we seemingly don’t see as dramatic results as what happened to Peter with our prayers, but the Bible reveals the truth to us. Prayers may not always have as dramatic results as we would like, but they are always powerful and effective if we come to God with earnest prayer. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Prayer is not an obligation we are required to do. It is a conversation of intimacy that we are privileged to engage with our God who has redeemed us. We must remember that God will not listen to our prayers if we pray yet are still nurturing sin in our heart (Psalms 66:18). Prayer must be repentant (Psalms 139:23-24) but also earnest. What would happen if our prayers individually and together with Christian brothers and sisters were earnest about the current worldwide crisis? What if we prayed for God to start working to reconcile Democrats and Republicans to sincerely work together for what is best for our country? What if we had earnest prayer for countries that were slaughtering and persecuting our brothers and sisters in Christ? Would it make a difference? You might say, “Shaun, all that sounds good, but somethings are just the way they are. It won’t change. It’s not possible.” Matthew 19:26 says, “…’With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Take a moment to meditate on this truth and think about Peter showing up at the front door of the Christians who were praying earnestly for him. Do you believe that your prayers truly have impact? That they are powerful and actually affect the world around us as God’s Word states? What does your prayer life reveal about praying earnestly, and what will you do about it?