Footsteps to Follow: Prayer…but
In Acts 12, King Herod decided to have James, the brother of John, killed because he belonged to the church. He saw that this act pleased the crowd.
Then Herod went after the bigger disciple, the one who brought 3,000 souls to the Lord at the start of his ministry. Peter was the big fisherman with the big mouth. King Herod sent four quaternions to capture Peter. A quaternion is a term for a squad of four soldiers (KJV).
Peter was delivered to the four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; they intended after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter, therefore, was kept in prison, but prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him. The whole church was praying for Peter as he was locked up.
As a young Christian, I didn’t understand a lot of things. After getting baptized, I didn’t feel anything instantly. I prayed, but something was missing. This went on for a while until Rev. Johnsen helped me. He said, “Brother Clarence,when you pray, pray like you mean it. Pray like whatever you are praying about, you have already received it.” After I practiced this, my approach became much better, and I was more confident.
So the early church knew what to do, and they did it feverishly. When God hears your prayer with all the certainty that went into it, look out! An angel of the Lord was dispatched to Peter with explicit orders of what to do.
The text tells us that Peter was sleeping between two soldiers that night after he was captured. Sometimes when we are in a tight situation, we might go on an eating binge or some of us may get extremely angry and some of us may even pace the floors. But when you are at peace with your Lord and Savior, you should be able to sleep peacefully and calmly, knowing that you prayed feverishly. Most of all, you left the prayer with Jesus.
So often when we pray, we take it back and continue to worry about why our prayer has not been answered. I have used the word “but” in my title because this conjunction is important. Why? Merriam-Webster states: “But marks an opposition or contrast.”
The early church prayed about Peter’s incarceration but knew that their God would take care of it. Peter prayed about his situation but knew what his savior could do. I have gone through many health problems in the past four years, and as of today, I presently take about 16 medications per day. Yes, I pray every day, but I know that my Jesus is my pilot. We also know that faith without works is dead.
In closing, Acts 12 is made up of three major components: the persecution by Herod, the angel of the Lord freed Peter, and God smote Herod. Peter realized that the Lord sent his angel and delivered Peter out of the hand of King Herod and from all the expectations of the crowd.
This reminds me of Satan trying to tempt me or get me to fall for his trickery. I must be vigilant and know that Jesus will deliver me. When Herod put on his royal apparel, sat on his throne, and made an oration, the crowd said, “It is the voice of a god” (v. 22). Then “immediately the angel of the Lord smote him because he gave not God the glory” (vs. 21-23). Always give God the glory in good times and bad times. May God have a blessing on these words. Amen.
Pastor Clarence B. Thompson, attends Antioch Baptist Church, Williamsport