“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”
The verse above was the reaction of the church when Herod began to persecute Christians. Peter became the next target to kill after Herod killed James and saw that it pleased the Jews. When Peter was arrested and put in prison, the church knew there was only one thing that could save his life, and that was prayer. It says in the verse above, “but prayer was made…for him.” This one little line saved Peter’s life and allowed him to continue his ministry. This verse teaches four things about prayer that will change your circumstances.
First, there is always hope when prayer is made. You may not be able to control the circumstances of life, but prayer can always be made to change those circumstances. Far too many believers complain about their circumstances instead of making prayer to God to ask Him to change their situation. The reaction to your disagreement with your pastor should be, “but prayer was made…for him.” The reaction to your problems with your spouse should be, “but prayer was made” for them. The reaction to your problems with your boss should be, “but prayer was made” for them. The reaction to your health problems should be, “but prayer was made.” The reaction to a child going wayward should be, “but prayer was made” for them. My friend, “but prayer was made” is the only answer to give you hope that your situation can change.
Second, prayer should always be your reaction to tragedy. This church didn’t wait to pray for the situation to change; rather, they immediately went to prayer when Peter was put in prison. You can wait until your situation gets worse to go to God in prayer, or you can immediately go to prayer and see if God will step in and change things. You could take a lot of stress off your life if you would go to prayer at the onset of tragedy instead of waiting for the tragedy to get worse to go to God. Don’t let the worsening of your situation move you to pray, but let the happening of the situation move you to pray.
Third, prayer is the only answer to free others from their prison. Your prayer life should not just be about you, but it the majority of your prayer life should be about helping others. This church wasn’t praying for themselves, but they were praying for Peter to be released from prison. You can gossip about what others are doing, or you can pray for God to release them from the prison of sin that is hurting the one you talk about. You can empathize with a person who is hurting, or you can intercede for them in prayer for their situation to change. Human emotions never change another’s situation, but prayer for others involves Divine intervention to change their situation. Prayer is the greatest thing you can do for anyone who is facing some sort of prison.
Fourth, your resolve and faith is often the determination for the answer you receive. This church didn’t just pray and leave, “but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” How long are you willing to pray for God to change your situation or another’s situation? If you don’t have the faith to keep praying, you will rarely see your prayer answered. My friend, the “effectual fervent prayer” of James 5:16 is a prayer of resolve and faith. Whatever you face today, or whatever a friend of yours faces today, the answer is to continue to pray until the LORD sees fit to change the situation. Let me encourage you to continue praying until the prison door of your situation is opened.