Power and Joy in Prayer {Acts 12}

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By Lisa Moore

In Acts Chapter 11 we see the church growing, with many people coming to the Lord.  But in the very next chapter we are back in Jerusalem with King Herod Agrippa beheading James, the brother of John, and imprisoning Peter.  "Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them.  And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.  When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also." (vs. 1-3)  Herod had big plans and schemes to further win the adoration of the Jewish people at the expense of Peter.  But as Herod learned the hard way, no scheme of man's can thwart the purpose of God. (Job 42:2)

While Peter was kept in prison, "prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God." (v. 5)  A group of believers had gathered at the house of Mary, the mother of John, to intercede to God on Peter's behalf.  As they were intently praying, a young servant girl named Rhoda heard a knock on the door.  While answering she heard a familiar voice, the voice of Peter.  In her excitement and joy she ran to tell the others leaving Peter standing at the gate.  But Rhoda was not believed.  She was told she was crazy, that it was an angel she heard.  Rhoda didn't relinquish, and through her insistence
and the continued knocking of Peter, Mary and the others soon learned how an angel of the Lord delivered Peter from the bonds of Herod and how God had answered their prayers.

So what can we learn from Rhoda?  First, she was determined.  Even though her story was doubted, she never gave up.  She knew Peter was at the door, and nothing was going to shake her from her truth.  Like Rhoda when sharing our testimony, our stories may be doubted.  Others may try to convince us that our faith in Jesus is crazy, and refuse to believe.  But no matter what they say, we know that God's Word is truth and as Jesus tells us in John 8:32, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  

Second, Rhoda was eager to share the good news about Peter's deliverance.  We too should be just as eager to share the Good News of Jesus.  The Good News that " God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)  Out of our joy in the gift of the redeeming love of Jesus, we should be obedient to the command of our Lord to, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15)  And we are to do so with gentleness and respect.  (1 Tim. 3:15)

And finally, Rhoda had unshakable faith in the power of prayer.  Even though the believers gathered at Mary's were praying with intensity for Peter's release, when Rhoda came to tell them their prayers had been answered they didn't believe.  But Rhoda never doubted for a moment.  Merely hearing the voice of Peter was all she needed to know that God had heeded their pleas.  When we seek God and pray to Him, we must do so in complete faith that what we are asking Him, He has the power and ability to do.  "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."  (1 John 5:14) 

We should all be like the servant-girl Rhoda.  Exited, and full of faith.  Praying expectantly to our Heavenly Father, and being filled with joy when those prayers are answered.  There is power in prayer.  When we are bound by chains and all gates are shut, the gate to God through prayer is always open and through Him, all things are possible.

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