Acts 12:1-17 — The Power of Prayer

person praying with bible opened on table

Another Reminder of the Persecuted Church

In this blog post, we’re going to look at two incidents that take place with Herod and two of the Apostles. It has been a few weeks since I addressed the issue of the persecuted church. This blog post is another reminder to continually pray for those in persecution. I did some research and found that in the last year over 245 million Christians are living in places of high levels of persecution. Also, 4,305 Christians are estimated to have been killed because of their faith. Additionally, 1,847 churches have been attacked. I feel that one Christian persecuted is one too many. These numbers are saddening. I encourage you to take some time regularly to pray for the many Christians around the world who are being persecuted.

Herod Kills James

When we look at Acts 12:1-2, we find that Herod had a goal to attack the Apostles of Jerusalem. He starts by killing James the brother of John. In Mark 3:17, James and John are called the Sons of Thunder. It is widely assumed that they were called this because of their temperament. I feel this is a good fact to keep in mind about James and John, it just shows us that God can use anyone.

Peter is Captured

In Acts 12:3-4 we find that Herod then captures Peter to be killed, however, he does not kill him right away because it is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Herod has soldiers’ guard him during the four watches of the night. The four watches of the night were from sunset to 9 pm, from 9 pm to midnight, midnight to 3 am, and 3 am to 6 am. The soldiers would rotate based on these four watches of the night.

The Power of Prayer Shown

In Acts 12:5 (NKJV), the church leads by example as Peter was in prison, “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.”. This verse should be an inspiration to us to pray for those being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. After these prayers are given by the church, something amazing takes place! In Acts 12:7-11 we find out that an angel came down and pulled Peter out of his chains and takes him out of the prison. At first, when this happens Peter thinks he is having a vision, but afterward he realizes that this angelic encounter is real. This just goes to show you that the power of prayer has no limit when we fully trust God. I feel that the early church in the Book of Acts had much more faith than what the average American church has today. I feel this because they had some spirit-filled leaders who truly sought God, and this, in turn, resulted in strong spirit-filled believers. This is something we desperately lack in the American church today because many churches want to look at the Bible with denominational eyes rather than spiritual eyes. This results in many denominations that don’t believe in the power of Jesus to set the captives free, heal the sick, deliver people from demonic oppression, and much more! How can we fix America in the eyes of God, when many churches don’t want to acknowledge that the same power the church in the Book of Acts had is available to us today?

The Power of Jesus Sets Us Free!

As I was reading this passage, I was reminded of two other scriptures. The first one is in John 8:36 (NKJV), when Jesus said, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”. Another scripture I was reminded of was Psalm 142:7 (NKJV) which says, “Bring my soul out of prison, That I may praise Your name; The righteous shall surround me, For You shall deal bountifully with me.”. With putting these two scriptures together, we not only need to think of the persecuted church being set free, but also ourselves being set free. The power of the name of Jesus Christ is so powerful, it will set people free from sickness, depression, addiction, and many other types of bondages.

Peter Gives Testimony

In Acts 12:12-17 we find that Peter goes to Mary’s house, and as he knocks on the door a woman by the name of Rhoda answered and was shocked. She was so shocked that she forgot to let him in, she thought that Peter had already been killed, but he was right there at the door. She went and told the others, and they didn’t believe her, they thought it was an angel at the door. When the others came to the door, they were amazed, and Peter told them what happened. He then left and went away to another place so Herod could not find his trail. Peter did what many of us would do if we had that type of encounter, he told others of his testimony. Our testimonies are so powerful and are often a sign to unbelievers. We may not be able to win people over to Christ by only teaching them scripture alone, but when you tell others about what Jesus has done for you, they will want what you have!

Final Thoughts

In my next post, I will wrap up chapter twelve and discuss what happens to the soldiers who were keeping an eye on Peter overnight, along with what happens to Herod. So please be sure to subscribe to this blog! I encourage you to take some time this week and think about what Jesus has done for you in your life and then share it with someone this week. Even if you share it with someone who is a believer, our testimonies also build each other up, along with being a sign to unbelievers. I would also like to remind you to continually pray for the persecuted church and encourage others to do the same.