"And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, 'Get up quickly.' And his chains fell off his hands." Acts 12:7
The Rescue of Peter from Herod's jail, was a turning point in the life of the church, and the life of Herod. Peter's arrest had all the signs of a disaster for the church. It wasn't. Looks can be deceiving. Remember The Cross?
Herod was an actor on a stage, playing a role, drawn from a script, written by the audience. He discovered his popularity rose when he attacked the church. He intended to keep The Jews happy, no matter how much it cost the church. His only purpose for living was doing whatever it took to stay in power. He was a true politician.
Peter slept through the all-night prayer meeting, but the angel of The Lord was dispatched to set him free, as a result of it. Rest is an honorable condition of the heart, but sleeping, when God calls us to action, is never a wise thing to do.
Prayer is a key component to freedom. Praying for forgiveness, set a person free from the wages of sin. There is life at the foot of the cross, when people bend their knees and ask The Savior to forgive them, and restore their relationship with God, in the name of His Son, Jesus.
There is life-giving grace given to those who ask God for the power to forgive those who have wronged them. Jesus did it on the cross. Stephen did it, as the stones pounded the life out of him. Do you see a pattern? Follow their lead.
Praying for the release of Peter, must have appeared like a fool's errand, to those asked to gather for an all-night vigil. The church prayed anyway. Remember. Looks can be deceiving. As the prayed, the angel of the Lord appeared...SUDDENLY.
The word means to come upon someone without warning, to be placed next to something, or someone. It means to stand, to stand by someone, or to stand near someone. When God's people kneel in prayer, He dispatches His angels to stand with them.
Luke must have interviewed John Mark for this story. The Gospel of Mark contains the word, IMMEDIATELY, 17 times to describe the dramatic way God unfolds the story of redemption. It is a gentle reminder to weary prayer warriors, that the watchmen on the wall can take hope in knowing God hears and responds to the cries of His children. When He stands with them, things change...SUDDENLY.
"A light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, 'Get up quickly.' And his chains fell off his hands." Acts 12:7
The prayers of God's people require a response from their leaders. Peter slept through the prayer meeting, but God wouldn't allow him to sleep through the rescue. God provided Peter with the ultimate wake-up call. He sent an angel to give him light in the dark, and a kick in the pants. The rest was up to Peter. He had to STAND UP, to be set free.
Without making Peter's unique experience, an industry standard, it still should be stated that sleeping through the revolution is a sure-fire way to stay in prison. The church was praying, but their leader had to STAND UP! Nothing has changed in the last 2,000 years.
Churches who pray for their pastors have an expectation that they should STAND for God, and His people. Government leaders who do not understand their stewardship, as servant's of the Most High God, are courting disaster. Christians would be wise to hold them accountable, not join them for a photo-op. Standing next to a wayward politician when God ushers him off the stage can prove embarrassing. Ask Billy Graham. He still flinches when he hears the name, Richard Nixon.
When Peter got up, he did it quickly, and the chains fell off his hands. His swift response to the angel's call to STAND, was an answer to prayer. Any leader, pastoral or political, would be wise to respond to a call to prayer and fasting. It is a sign that God is up to something that they never expected to happen.
If pastors or politicians choose the paralysis of analysis, over the call to action, they will miss the opportunity for deliverance, for themselves and their people. To miss out on leading what God has in store for His people is to forfeit the mantle of leadership. Those who won't forfeit it, need to have it taken away from them, whether they be pastors or politicians.
The cry of God's people requires a response from His leaders. There can be a bone-weary battle fatigue that sets in, and weakness the heart of a pastor, preacher, or patriot. The opposition has been so strong for so long that it is hard to believe God will ever come through. Looks can be deceiving, but the feeling of failure, true or not, can be very intense. It is a lie. Don't believe how you feel. KNEEL first, then, STAND UP!
Despair takes the air out of a person's soul. Prayer puts it back in. Prayer is the air God's people breathe, in the dark of night, and in the face of intimidation and annihilation. When God's people pray, their cries are heard in Heaven, and Heaven moves to earth, to bring light in the night, to set them free from the grasp of the enemy, and to make a way, when there seems to be no way.
Breathe deep. Keep praying. Keep believing. Wake up! STAND UP! TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!