Title: Are you praying for me?
Text: Acts 12:5-17
Introduction: Prayer is bringing the kingdom of God into your situation. Prayer is telling God you are the only one that can help me. Prayer is man exercising his legal authority on earth to invoke heaven’s influence on earth. Prayer is the necessity for living. After all that prayer can do, wouldn’t you want the results of prayer to manifest in someone’s life? So are you praying for me? Are you praying for me? (build on)….Our story is about someone who benefited from the blessings of prayer.
I. Pretext: Life’s perils
Here we have in the text the apostle Peter in a bad situation. It was Peter who preached the sermon on Pentecost. It was Peter with John who told the lame man to look upon him and he was healed. It was Peter who is carrying out the mandate to preach the gospel and who is being a witness through the world. Peter who was filled with the Holy Ghost addressed the Sanhedrin about the wicked ways in crucifying the Lord who they tried to stop him from preaching the gospel finds him in a jam again. He was captured before but this time King Herod was not going to so kind to the leader the believers and let him go. Herod just killed James. Now he was going to have Peter executed for creating an uproar about the resurrected Savior. By the way it was King Herod’s grandfather who killed Jesus (it was in his blood). Herod who tried to win favor with the Jews started harassing the church. There are some people who don’t like you because someone else does not like you. They don’t have a reason but they want to be in the clique. Herod was a “people pleasers” so he seized Peter to please the Jews. But it was the time of Passover so he could not be executed immediately according to custom. So he sent Peter to jail and put in solitary confinement. The text says that he was surrounded by four squads of soldiers to keep him in check. You know you must be powerful man or woman of God when you got more than one thing holding you down! My brothers and my sisters, life perils will hold you down in bondage. You are probably like me and asking God why am I dealing with this mess and feeling like this? I do the right thing and don’t bother nobody. But still trouble always seems to knock at my door. Beloved, you got problems and that keep me in bondage from doing what the Lord called me to do! Like Herod, it seems like the devil stretch out his hand toward you to give you perpetual perils in your life. But God has a way of delivering His chosen out of trouble.
II. Earnest prayer of the Church
There is some trouble you can’t get out of by yourself. If you could you would have done it by now. As a believer, you exercise your faith in community of other believers that are faith filled and blood washed that God in his sovereignty draws to himself and uses to advance His kingdom. I am talking about the church of Jesus Christ, the ekklesia, the called out to worship Jesus as Lord. The church is not a building but a people. It was a band of the called out who were obediently waiting in praying in the upper room when the Holy Ghost fell in Acts 2 which birthed a movement that would change history. Like all movements in history to influence change society, each had an MO. Like today North Korea has weapons of mass destruction. But 2000 years ago the church had an MO and it was a weapon of mass destruction that is still powerful till this day; Prayer! And there has never been or will be anything compared to it power! In verse 5, it says that Peter was therefore kept in prison but prayer was made by the church unto God for him. It is through engaging in intense corporate prayer of the church that Peter was released from his bondage in prison. If we unpack this verse exegetically, we see that they earnestly unceasingly prayed to God, the creator, the all powerful, the Almighty, the Father of heaven and earth. They prayed to the One who could do anything but fail. They offered up… which suggest they had faith. But what is so powerful about this text is the church had laser beam focus in prayer. It says “for him”. They were all on one accord “for him”. They abandoned their personal problems and agendas “for him”. Imagine if Tried Stone, could come together with such a focus and pray on specific issues with expectation that God will work it out! Prayer is what the early church did and it was who they were. We should live a lifestyle that embodies prayer that is God focused to meet our needs and the needs of others. But here lies the problem. We don’t come together for corporate prayer like we should. We have become too individualistic. This was not the practice of the early church that demonstrated power. But I am here to testify that one can chase a thousand and 2 can put 10,000 to flight in prayer! When you pray together you just do stay together, you conquer together! There is power in agreement. Look at your neighbor…
But before we go to our next point we have to observe a lesson we can learn from Peter in his predicament. In verse 6, Peter was sleeping that night bound with 2 chains between 2 soldiers with guards at the door. How could Peter sleep on eve he was suppose to die? Some of you maybe saying well Peter slept while Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. He was probably narcoleptic. But this is not the same Peter. This Peter is filled the Holy Ghost power. This Peter who had a promise from Jesus himself! This Peter had a purpose! Peter was able to focus and not be distracted by his situation. He knew he was able to rest in God. My beloved, when you are focused on God’s promise and His purpose, He will give you rest too! David said it best in Ps 16:9, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope”. He will kept you in perfect peace when you eyes (your focus) is upon thee because you trust in him.
III. Prayer ignites God’s power
But here in verse 7 is the result from a praying church. An angel of the Lord came and stood by Peter and shone a light in the prison, struck Peter to wake him up. An angel is God’s messenger. God has angels watching over you on assignment bring messages of hope and ready to act in the time of need. Next, the text says that light was shone in the prison. When you are in bondage shut up from freedom you are in darkness and you need light. Jesus is the light to leads you out of darkness to show you a brighter day. Next, it says that the angel struck him… and awaken him. God is going to give you an awakening so you can get out of the situation for you to give Him more glory. Look what happens next. His chains fell off and the angel told him to put on his clothes and his shoes and cover up, I am going to get you out of here. God is telling somebody to “get ready, I am going to get you out of here”! Peter obeyed what the angel said and followed him. Even though the text says Peter thought he was seeing vision. This tells us that despite how we feel or our circumstances, when God gives us instructions we have to follow. And because of Peter obedience things just seem to happen for him. The text says that got past the first and the second guard. Then they come to the obstacle that separates Peter from complete freedom, an iron gate. You would think that he would have to break through. However, when they came to the gate the text says it opens on its own. When you follow what the Lord says it will always get you past obstacles and things you thought would completely block you would open up on its own. My brothers and my sisters when you are chosen by God and obedient to his Word things will just happen for that seem impossible. Even though you might not understand, obey his word. Even though it may be tough obey His word. You are blessed by your obedience. Obedience is the key to unlocking the favor of God. When Peter and the angel went out to the street, the angel departed. The angel’s assignment was done! After Peter comes to himself he realized that it could have only been God that delivered him. That is somebody testimony today. All that you went through and how you got out was so amazing, you came to the realization that it was only God. Pause. Then Peter went to a house John Mark’s mother where the believers were praying. Peter knocked on the door of the gate and a servant girl name Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice she got so excited it was him she forgot to open the door and ran to tell the others that it was Peter. But they thought she was crazy. This leads me to the last point.
IV. Pray with expectancy
These believers were gathered together prior praying for Peter. Their prayers have been answered and Peter is out of prison, safe and at the door. But the church did not believe what it prayed for. A church that does not believe what it prays for is in bad shape. But in every church there is at least one person with some radical faith that now matter what anybody says they believed the report of the Lord! The text says that Rhoda kept insisting it was Peter even though they thought she was seeing his angel. When you see God manifest in your life you will be able to stand despite the opposition. But Peter kept knocking and finally they open the door and they went into shout because Peter was there in the flesh. But Peter calms them down to tell them the great thing that the Lord has done. The church initially could not believe what just happen. This is testimony of the awesomeness of God. We serve a God that continually out God’s himself. He always takes his “Godness” to a new level which should take our faith to a new level. God displayed His power in response of a few people with some faith knowing what God is able when people pray! What is He able to do when you pray? The exceedingly, abundant above all we ask or think. My God is able! That is why the church has to pray! Peter was released because the churched prayed!
If The Church Would Just Pray....”
– Gossipers would stop talking!
– Liars would stop lying!
– Cheaters would stop cheating!
– Back biters would stop back-biting!
– Drunkards would stop drinking!
– Sniffers would stop snorting!
– Smokers would stop smoking!
– Fast woman will slow down!
– Fresh men would keep their pants on!
– Old folk would stop acting foolish!
– Young folk would stop acting crazy!
. . . “If The Church Would Just Pray!”
Celebration: I am here to tell you that I am result of somebody praying for me. Somebody prayed for me…