Acts twelve opens with the tragic story of the death of Apostle James, the son of Zebedee. King Herod Agrippa sees that it pleased some of the people and, as a result, has Simon Peter put in prison. King Herod plans to bring Peter to trial after the Passover celebration. This situation looks bleak for Peter and the church. The king’s intention is for Peter to be killed. The fifth Verse states the case accurately: “So Peter was kept in prison.” Often, people of faith are accused of not being realists. You believe in pie in the sky, and you pray to a God you cannot see, you believe in miracles, these and other statements are used to illustrate that faith is not valid.
Verse five does not deny reality. It states the situation exactly as it is: Peter is in prison, and there is a death sentence awaiting him. There is more to verse five than the description of the reality of Simon Peter’s circumstance.
Verse five is a ‘hinge’ verse. The change swings on what is a small word, “but.” This word is a hinge that changes the direction of the verse. “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” The reality of Peter’s imprisonment is acknowledged, but praying people, crying out earnestly to God, is a powerful reality as well. Verse five reminds us that regardless of our circumstance, there is something that can be done: prayer! Earnest prayer is what it is called in this place. Earnest prayer is a prayer that is passionate and sincere. Prayer that understands that the situation is beyond one’s ability to fix and a realization that God is the only one who can intervene. All of my life, I have heard that “prayer changes things.” It does indeed change things, but the most significant change is the change it has on me!
There is always tension points in our lives: be diligent, but trust God. Allow me to name some other tension points: We are all going to die, but we are told to pray for healing. The Bible tells us that “anyone who does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim. 5:8) We are also told that we should not worry about tomorrow for God will provide. These and many other examples point out that on this earth, we live in the tension between two truths. The truths do not cancel each other, and they remind us that we are to do what we can do, and in everything, we must trust God.
What is your story today? Face the reality of it just as we are shown in Acts 12:5. What is your “So Peter was kept in prison” account? It is a good thing to acknowledge our pain, and yet remember the hinge: “but” the church was earnestly praying to God for Him! Regardless of what you are going through today, turn to God in prayer, and cry out to Him from the depths of your heart. In faith, leave the results in His hands.
Even the most massive door you will encounter swings on small hinges. When faced with adversity, we want to do something big and bold, when the best thing is something that seems to us to be rather small, pray. Prayer makes the difference in our circumstances and especially in our perspective and reality.
You do not have to have perfect faith to pray; you just need enough faith to pray!
Prayer changes things, yes, but the most significant difference I have found is the impact it has on me