“Whatever else they may be, the people in the Bible are real human beings.”
Frederick Buechner from Listening to Your Life
When we last left the page, Peter had healed Aeneas and raised Dorcas from the dead. Saul, tucked away in his hometown of Tarsus. The Gospel spread and persecution had quieted.
It’s all about to change, and still, we see God at work in mighty, miraculous ways.
A nasty royal, King Herod Agrippa, turns up the heat.
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. ~Acts 12:1-4 NLT
As I have worked my way through Acts, and through this particular journey, persecutions, arrests, trials, and hardships have taken place during Jewish festivals and celebrations. I have come to believe the reason for this may very well be the crowds drawn during this time. A bigger platform on which to perform these deeds, use the power of sensationalism to feed and incite.
Currently, in the political climate of our country, we are seeing this very thing. Through the news media, social media, and our own opinions splashed as mud all over the place, what better, bigger platform for the decline of a country to take place. I am left to wonder, how vulnerable that makes us.
Going deeper in my personal life, it seems when something is planned, a holiday, a celebration of some sort, my own life seems to disintegrate. I go through the motions and all the while a churning in my gut is going full throttle.
These things seem to revolve around sacred times on our calendar. As a holiday approaches, your business closes. The turkey sits, waiting to be carved, a family situation implodes, preparing for a trip, your husband collapses. While birthday candles are blown out, the test results you just received swirl around your mind.
During these times, the enemy of our soul creeps in, taking siege the platform. Taking our focus off the important things, stoking fear and doubt. In rolls my good friend tremulous faith.
I can handle this one of two ways, or more. I can crumble and fold or I can do as Peter’s friends.
But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. ~Acts 12:5 NLT
“The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.”
~F. B. Meyer
The Passion Translation words it this way: “The church went into a season of intense intercession, asking God to free him.
A season. Intense. Specific. Praying.
Season grabs me. I have lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the winter season seems endless. I currently live in the south where the summer season bears down incessantly long. I picture a season of intense intercession never ending, twenty-four hours a day, non-stop. Sacrificial, perhaps passing on meals and rest. Sweaty and raw.
Intense. Agonizing, all-consuming, diligent, burning, earnest. Ezra comes to mind. When I am desperate, have cried out ’till my voice is near gone, I turn to these familiar words:
I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord my God. I prayed
Trace my finger down the page, worn thin and familiar:
But now we have been given this brief moment of grace ~Ezra 9:5b&8a NLT
Specific. Explicit. Precise.
This is no ordinary prayer meeting, no general, all encompassing prayer. Rather this is intense, specific, lasting prayer.
How different things might look if my prayer life remotely resembled this!
This prayer answered with miraculous results.
Peter was securely bound with two chains. Peter was sound asleep between two soldiers, with additional guards stationed outside his cell door, when all at once an angel of the Lord appeared, filling his prison cell with a brilliant light. The angel struck Peter on the side to awaken him and said, “Hurry up! Let’s go!” Instantly the chains fell off his wrists. The angel told him, “Get dressed. Put on your sandals, bring your cloak, and follow me.”
Peter quickly left the cell and followed the angel, even though he thought it was only a dream or a vision, for it seemed unreal-he couldn’t believe it was really happening! They walked unseen past the first guard post and then the second before coming to the iron gate that leads to the city-and the gate swung open all by itself right in front of them!
They went out into the city and were walking down a narrow street when all of a sudden the angel disappeared. That’s when Peter realized he wasn’t having a dream! ~Acts 12:6-11a TPT
Four years ago I fervently, boldly prayed for something specific, including a date. God answered my prayer, down to the specifics. The answer was real, the proof laid in my hands, confirmed, and yet my reaction was like Peter’s.
I pick this incident, that I prayed specific and with boldness, the answered prayer. I remember calling my Sweet Man at work saying, “You are not going to believe this!” My reaction not so different from Peter.
Still, there is the prayers that come watered down with an edge of dare in them. Perhaps you have those as well. The ones you’ve prayed over a course of time, weeks, days, or years. I have those. Many in fact.
But the thing is, there is more to prayer, then the answer I desire. There is communication, building relationship.
There is listening.
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I love this book, the concept, the stories, and the cover. The fact that I was invited to be tucked among the pages is an honor.
“If you only have one hour in the day to write, don’t spend it frustrated. Spend it writing.” ~@lisajobaker, #FMFbook
Gifts of Gifts