Peace and Prayer
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. (This took place during the Passover celebration. ) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for 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. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
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. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”
Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11 NLT
An amazing escape. What a story—James is arrested and killed. This makes the Jewish leaders happy, so Herod decided to do the same to Peter next. Peter is put in prison awaiting his trial and execution. While he’s sleeping, an angel comes and walks Peter out of prison.
Several things stand out. First, how was Peter sleeping the night before he is to be tried and executed? I think I would be so full of anxiety over my circumstances I would not be able to sleep. Peter’s faith is so strong he can sleep in the prison knowing Herod plans to kill him. That is a gift of peace that can only come from deep confidence in God.
Another thought, the author notes the church was praying. Were they praying for James when he was arrested? Did the death of James suddenly motivate the believers to pray for protection and divine intervention for Peter?
I think the believers prayed for James, but he didn’t walk out of prison. I don’t believe God loved Peter more than James. I just believe God’s plan was not finished for Peter. Our prayers do not control God. Our prayers should always be to release God’s will in our lives and the lives of others.
I want to have the peace that Peter had, and I want to have the prayer life of the early believers. I want to see miracles happening in and through my life, and I want to have peace even when things don’t happen the way I want them to happen.
Perhaps the biggest miracle of the story is not Peter’s escape from prison but his peace in the prison.
Holy Spirit, please fill me with the peace that passes all understanding. Help me to have a deep trust in You. Help me also to be an intercessor for others who are struggling or suffering for You.
Scroll down to share what you feel God is saying to you based on today’s reading.