Shut Everything Down and Pray!
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (Acts 12:5 NIV)
We focus on praise and worship and Bible study and music and preaching in our churches, and indeed there is a time for everything under the sun. But there are times when you just have to shut everything down and flat-out call on God in prayer.
The verse for today says that the church was praying earnestly to God for Peter. Another translation of the same verse says that “a steady stream of prayer went up” to God for him. What elicited all of this prayer? The early church at the time had no money, no public buildings, and no political clout. James, one of the church leaders, had already been put to the sword, and now another—Peter—had been thrown in prison. Every expectation was that he too would be killed after a public, sham trial. What was the response of the believers in the face of this impossible situation? Shut everything down and send up a steady stream of prayer to God! That was typical of the early church, because they remembered the Scriptures where God said, “Call on me in the day of trouble” (Psalm 50:15). They remembered the words of Jesus: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
Think about what they were praying for, however. They obviously believed in a supernatural God who could do supernatural things, because they were praying for someone who was in chains, locked up in a filthy prison with four different groups of soldiers on rotation, guarding him 24/7. They could have thought, “Why bother praying?” But they believed nothing is too hard for God!
One of the great battles in prayer is the temptation to give up, because some people and some situations seem so far gone, that you don’t even have the energy to pray. Or you start to pray and when nothing happens, you give up. How many have had that battle—to believe God when it seems that nothing will work? Those praying for Peter may have felt the same temptation to give up, but God stirred them and they gave themselves to prayer. Because there’s a time for everything. There’s a time to sing and a time to go on mission trips. But Peter’s in prison and about to be executed, so it’s time to shut everything down and pray.
Even in our own personal lives, sometimes it's not the right moment to listen to gospel music or even talk to a godly friend; it’s time to stop everything, get alone with God, and say, “I’m not going to let you go until you rearrange my life and bless me, Lord! I’m not moving until you speak to me!”
Are you in that place today? If you are, be encouraged in your faith and follow the example of the early church. Shut everything down and pray, for “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)!
Read Acts 12:1-5.