Summary: God uses different means to bring us to our knees. When we really fervently pray, mighty things will take place. Let the church rise to her full potential by collectively calling on His name.
WHEN THE CHURCH PRAYS
In the last few verses of chapter 11, we see a great revival in Antioch. There the disciples were first called christians. The Spirit had done a great work in their lives, in that they laid aside enough of their carnal self to become identified as Christ-like.
Then Agabus prophesies, and the Spirit reveals that a world wide drought was coming soon. The disciples made it a priority to sacrifice and send relief to Judea. Barnabas and Saul were the men who carried the relief.
And if the natural disaster was not devastating enough, King Herod was up to no good to vex the church. He had James killed, and now has arrested Peter, with plans to do likewise.
VEX =continual persistent pressure to cause to surrender or at least compromise.
7 ¶ And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (KJV)
7 y libró al justo Lot, abrumado por la nefanda conducta de los malvados (RVG04)
8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) (KJV)
8 (porque este justo, morando entre ellos, afligía cada día su alma justa, viendo y oyendo los hechos inicuos de ellos). (RVG04)
The "christians" were being put to the extreme test. What was their answer?
They went to prayer. And what happened?
I. God Showed Up (vs.7)
The angel of the Lord appeared; possibly a Cristophony; at least an angel sent directly from the Lord, with Christ governing his every move.
When the church prays, God will show up.
It is interesting to see a different Peter here. He is not the same impetous Peter who was nervous and cowardly before Pentecost. Here he is bound with chains, between two soldiers. He knows that Herod plans to take his head off very soon. But he is found sleeping and sleeping hard. The angel shined a light upon him in this dark dungeon, but it has no effect. The angel punches him in the ribs to wake him up.
There is a place of perfect peace in Christ, even in the midst of our greatest trial.
II. Chains and Weights Fall Off (vs.7)
The shackles that bound him in prison and attached him to his enemies (the soliders) suddenly and miracuosly fall off.
Is there something that has a grip on you and is holding you bound to the enemy. The prayers of the church will offer you freedom from those bonds.
Peter thought it was a dream for a while. He was having trouble comprehending that freedom was his as he followed the voice of Christ.
III. Doors Begin to Open (vs. 10)
Allow God to open the door; don't try to force it.
God has His timing. No door is too hard for God to open.
Doors of Liberty
Doors of Opportunity
Doors of Hope
They can and will be opened if the church will earnestly and continually pray.
IV. Joy is Renewed (vs. 14)
The church has been in an all night vigil. God is answering their prayers, unbeknown to them at that moment.
Most of the time you and I do not know what God is doing or how He is doing it until it has already been accomplished. But we must continue to pray until the fullness of the answer is known amongst us.
Rhoda, the young damsel, was beside herself with joy, when she saw Peter at the door.
The property had a solid gate and a "peephole" of sorts. Rhode was so excited and nervous that she did not open the door, but ran in to tell the church that Peter was at the door. Like many of us would have done; they told her to quiet down and let them continue to pray. It couldn't be Peter; he is in prison and we are praying for him. How many times do we pray, but do not believe that God can really work the miracle? We may believe that He will simply give us grace to tolerate the obvious, but do not really expect the supernatural.
Peter kept knocking. Is the answer to your prayer knocking at your door and you are in such a state of shock that you can't believe it is really right there? Isn't it time to open the door and welcome it in?
Great joy (exhuberance) filled the church. Peter could hardly get them to quiet down.
Those present at the prayer meeting were filled with joy. Peter admonishes them to go quickly and tell others who were not present, so that they may share in the joy as well.
V. Sinners Get Shook Up (vs. 18)
The world is alway running behind in trying to figure out when and how it happened. They sure do not want to attribitute it to God.
--Pray until the jailhouse rocks.
--Pray until the plans in high places are changed.
--Pray until sinners and backsliders repent.
--Pray until you see the answer.