“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”
The church at Jerusalem was under severe attack. Herod, the king, had killed James with the sword. Seeing how much it pleased the Jews, he apprehended Peter. Peter was the obvious leader of the followers of Jesus. What a shock it must have been for the church to see him placed in prison. This church that Jesus started was facing opposition from every side. They could find no protection from the government because the government was against them. They could not appeal to fellow countrymen because the Jews hated them and wanted them removed. Stephen had been murdered. Saul of Tarsus was zealous in his persecutions toward the Christians. Where could they turn? Was there any recourse for this mistreated band of disciples? There was one place they could turn. They would turn to God. While Peter was in prison, they prayed “without ceasing.”
All of us would agree that all prayer is not the same. Prayers can be cold and lifeless, or prayers can be urgent and passionate. These were desperate days for this congregation of Christians. They needed help, real help, immediate help, and divine help. They would not stop praying. Though the answer did not come immediately, they continued to pray. They were persistent in their praying.
Most of us can probably remember something that we once urgently prayed for, but it never came. And since that time, we have quit praying for it. This event in the life of the church reminds us of the importance of continuing in our intercession. They prayed “without ceasing.” Don’t stop praying for the things that you are convinced are God’s will. A delayed answer should not be considered a denial.
We are also encouraged in this text about the value of corporate prayer. We all know that God hears and answers our individual prayers. However, the Bible is clear that God gives special promises for us when we pray together. The church members at Jerusalem continued to pray. Sometimes praying with others helps us stay focused and believing. Whereas one may begin to doubt or waver, if others are praying with us, they can encourage us to trust and believe God. As persecutions come, and it appears that there is no human support, remember that God can be reached in prayer.