Summary: Praying for results in His presence
Are you praying so as to get what you are asking for?
5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
Suppose I was to say to you that you could go to the bank tomorrow and could withdraw whatever you are in need of? If I would say that not only tomorrow but any day you could do this with no limitations. Wouldn’t you think that to be a great thing? I want you to know that you can go to a bank anytime and with draw more than what any bank could give you. It is called the bank of Heaven. The Bible tells us we can do that. Many have proved this to be true. In Acts 12 we have a record of such a prayer. They asked for and got exactly what they asked for. Herod had already killed one of the leaders of the church and seeing it pleased the people he arrested Peter with intention to also take his head off. God was in charge and so it did not happen quickly. When the church heard about this problem they did not take up a petition or get a lawyer, they went to prayer. Maybe you have heard this story before but I want us to get a picture in our minds of how this seemed a hopeless situation. Peter was in a secure prison. He was guarded by 16 soldiers. He was chained to two of them. The church had no army to go and set him free and the Romans were well trained to fight off any who came against them. They might have been able to get money to bribe this king for he seemed to be open to that tactic. They did what they knew best to do they went to prayer with earnest petition that God would do what they could not do. I am sure that if some of those in charge of Peter had heard of such a thing they would have remarked, “We will see how foolish these Christians are in thinking that prayer works.” Now we also notice that Peter though he was facing death was not afraid and was sleeping in this prison. He was sleeping so soundly the angel had to hit him in the side to wake him. “Arise quickly” and he did. The guards slept as Peter walked to the gates. On their own accord the gates opened and Peter was free. The angel left him in the street. His thoughts came to him that prayer was being made and so he went to where that prayer meeting was happening. He knocked on the door of the prayers who were wondering who was disturbing their prayer meeting. He had to keep knocking until they came. Rhoda is the only name mentioned in this prayer meeting for she was the only one it seems that had faith to believe that God would answer prayer. Are you a Rhoda? I want us to see how these people prayed so we might follow that pattern to get answer to the prayer we make. They prevailed in prayer until the answer came. We want to look at four phrases from verse 5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
1. They prayed “Unto God”. Someone has said that most praying it is not unto God that Christians really pray. The reason he gave was that when most people pray they are thinking far more of what they are praying for than to whom they are praying. They are thinking more of themselves than who they are seeking. Have you taken time to listen to people when they pray out loud? You will hear the requests, but how many take time to recognize God for who He is. There are some who use the name of God or Jesus through out their prayer but only because they lack to address Him at the first when they start praying. Would it bother you if I called you by name to get your attention to listen to me and then used your name at the beginning and ending of each sentence? We pray but fail to realize who we are praying to. This causes me to wonder how many words we would use if at the start we entered into God’s presence when we pray. He is holy not just a good buddy. One man said that he was brought up to pray but did not know who taught him to pray but felt it was his mother. He prayed every day except for one in which he was involved in accident. Even when he was not a Christian he would still pray. Even when he doubted whether the Bible was the word of God, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that God was personal he still prayed. Prayer was a matter of form. After he was converted and even entered the ministry prayer was still a matter of form. One day God became real to him as never before. He knew that when he came to pray he was first to enter God’s presence and then prayer was made Unto God. His life of prayer became not, “How much time must I spend in prayer?” but “How much time May I spend in prayer without neglecting my other duties in life?” How much would our prayer life change if we made the decision when I come to pray I will not say anything until I recognize I am coming into God’s presence? Let me suggest two things about this matter;