Summary: A look at what really happens when believers get down on their knees and pray.

When The Church Prays

Acts 12:1-19

A Sunday School teacher was struggling to open a combination lock that was placed on the supply closet in the church. She had been told the combination, but she couldn’t quite remember it. Exasperated, she went to the pastor’s study to ask for help. The pastor came into the room and began to turn the dial. After the first two numbers, he paused and stared blankly for a moment. Finally, he admitted that he could not remember the combination either. Then, the pastor folded his hands and looked serenely to the heavens. His mouths moved silently. Then, he looked back at the lock, quickly entered the numbers, and opened the lock. The teacher was amazed. “Pastor, I can’t believe you prayed and God gave you the combination,” she said. “It’s really nothing,” he answered. “The combination is written on a piece of paper taped to the ceiling.”

You know, as a church, we sometimes don’t know what to make of prayer. We read about prayer in the Bible and we see that it did miraculous things. We hear about people all around the world who are saved out of grave circumstances by prayer. We hear about those who are miraculously healed of diseases and they attribute the cure to prayer. Then, we pray our prayers in church and nothing seems to happen. So, what is the problem? Is powerful prayer over and done with? Were miracles and wondrous happenings something for a past time and not today? I thank the Lord that this is not the case. Prayer is still as powerful and effective as it has ever been.

We have been talking about prayer for the last few weeks, and we will continue to do so today. First, we talked about the importance of getting your torch lit everyday in your prayer closet. Then, once we have that daily time with God, we get out of a rut by praying prayers of confession, adoration, thanksgiving, seeking, and sitting in silence. Now, once we have this basis of prayer down and we are in daily communication with the Father, it will free us to know the will of God. Then, we can come together as a body of believers and pray God’s will. What will happen when a group of people in everyday contact with God come together to pray God’s will? This morning, we are going to take a look at what happens when the church prays. If you have your Bible, turn with me to Acts 12:1-19 or you can follow along on your sermon notes.

1It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. 9Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating." 12When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" 15"You’re out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel." 16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. "Tell James and the brothers about this," he said, and then he left for another place. 18In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.

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