Acts 12: 5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. 11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
This whole chapter is a reminder of how God works. In life, the good and bad things are ordered for a purpose. The Lord allows all things. We can’t lay the blame on him because so many evil forces are against us, but he does allow bad things to happen so we can grow spiritually.
Some may look at certain things as a mistake. Take the death of James as an example. Herod wanted to annihilate the church so he captured James, one of the original four disciples. He was intimidating in stature, but he made a great impact for Jesus in Jerusalem as the leader of the church there. Herod ordered his immediate execution, and he was beheaded. Why was he taken out so soon? He barely had his feet into the work there. He hadn’t even ventured out of Jerusalem as the others had. He was the first of the disciples to die. It looked like his life had been in vain. His brother John lived longer than any of the disciples. All we can say is that this is what God wanted. If something happens to us tomorrow, don’t think “what have I done?” God has a purpose. The Lord wanted James in heaven with him as he did Stephen.
Herod also put Peter in prison. He was already condemned and would be executed the next day. He was in the dark prison asleep on the last night of his life. How could he do that? I think verse 5 is the key. Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. The people were praying for Peter. Sometimes it takes trouble for us to get down to business with God. The people were coming off the execution of James so they were praying hard for Peter. If one of us dies, we have to keep going. We can’t give up.
While Peter slept, the people prayed. There is a difference in prayer and prayer requests. Requests may be proper, but our talking to the Lord should not just be a list of what we want him to do for us. Prayer is talking to God. Treat it as a father/child relationship of talking. Thanks is involved. Praise is involved. Repentance is involved. These get us in position to ask. We talk to one another. If our conversations were only about do this for me, it wouldn’t be much of a relationship. Talk to God like you would another person.
Prayer should be the first resort not the last. The people didn’t try to break Peter out of jail. They prayed. I can see them now. They were not praying for selfish desires but for someone else. When we pray for others first God takes care of our needs too. They prayed expectantly and readily. There were willing to take the risk of being together. Peter was headed for the chopping block, but the people still prayed. With God all things are possible.
Don’t pray with a “give up already” attitude. When the Lord answered their prayer, they didn’t know it. They could have exercised their faith a little more and posted a watch. They would have seen Peter coming. While Peter was on his way to them, they were still praying. There was a knock on the door of the gate. Rhoda went to see who was knocking. I can hear Peter saying “Rhoda, open the door; it’s me.” She recognized his voice, but she didn’t answer the door. Sometimes our answers knock on the door, but we sort of like the crisis so we can worry. When the answer knocks, open the door. Believe God when he answers. Don’t slam the door on the answer to your prayer. Would you rather keep fretting? There is a time to open the door and let the answer in.
Rhoda told the others Peter was at the door. They thought she was crazy. At her insistence that it was Peter, they said it was his ghost. Don’t get so shortsighted. Expect an answer from God. It may not be what you expect or how you expect it. God put the guards to sleep, unshackled Peter and let him walk out. Our God is real. When we ask him something he sends a real answer to knock on our door. Open it. You’ll be satisfied with the answer. It may be yes. It may be no. It might be maybe or wait a while. Whatever the answer it’s fine. Sometimes we peek through the keyhole and if we don’t like what we see we don’t open the door. When the answer comes knocking, it will be all right.
Peter had been knocking for several minutes. There’s a time to seek, but there’s a time to take the answer. Don’t be so caught up in yourself that you fail to open the door when the answer comes knocking!