An Honest Conversation About Prayer | Part 2: Together
May 12, 2021
May 12, 2021
About that time King Herod violently attacked some who belonged to the church, 2 and he executed James, John’s brother, with the sword. 3 When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4 After the arrest, he put him in prison and assigned four squads of four soldiers each to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying fervently to God for him.
6 When Herod was about to bring him out for trial, that very night Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while the sentries in front of the door guarded the prison. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. Striking Peter on the side, he woke him up and said, “Quick, get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. 8 “Get dressed,” the angel told him, “and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Wrap your cloak around you,” he told him, “and follow me.” 9 So he went out and followed, and he did not know that what the angel did was really happening, but he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 After they passed the first and second guards, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went outside and passed one street, and suddenly the angel left him.
11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s grasp and from all that the Jewish people expected.” 12 As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was called Mark, where many had assembled and were praying. 13 He knocked at the door of the outer gate, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. 14 She recognized Peter’s voice, and because of her joy, she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the outer gate.
15 “You’re out of your mind!” they told her. But she kept insisting that it was true, and they said, “It’s his angel.” 16 Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. (Acts 12:1-16)
There are several wonderful things that the church is doing here with regards to prayer that are a wonderful example to us. In our blogs, I want to highlight two. There are more than 2 here, but these are the ones I’ve chosen to highlight for us.
The first thing to notice is that the church was praying together.
You can see this in verse 5 and in verse 12. Verse 5 mentions that the “church” (that is, the gathering) was praying for him, but verse 12 highlights this even more clearly. 12 As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was called Mark, where many had assembled and were praying.
This is interesting to me given the context. The context is that Herod Agrippa was finding great joy and great personal political gain by rounding up Christians, especially their leaders, and executing them or imprisoning them. Nothing would make it easier to find more Christians for this purpose than to have them gathered in groups, but the church gathered together anyway, specifically TO PRAY. The implication is that there is something about being together in prayer that is worth the risk of being persecuted, if not killed, for doing so.
On the whole, the Bible seems to place a high degree of value on corporate prayer.
- The vast majority of prayers in the Old Testament are corporate prayers.
- Many of the Psalms were prayed congregationally.
- In his epistles, Paul is often concerned with congregational prayer.
So you put all of that together, and we see that for a variety of reasons, the gathered church is to pray together.
Next time we’ll look at another positive lesson from this passage.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.