PRAYER: MOVING THE HAND OF GOD
Scripture Reading: Acts 12:1-17
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. 5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. 6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals"; and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me." 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people." 12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It is his angel."
16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren." And he departed and went to another place.
A musician is commended, not that he played so long, but that he played so well. And thus it is not the days of our life, but the goodness of our life; not the length of our prayers, but the fervency of our prayers; not the measure of our profession, but the sincerity of our profession—that is acceptable unto God.
5 Conditions of Successful Prayer:
1. Contrition (repentance; preparing your heart) James 5:16a; 2 Chronicles 7:14
2. Whole-Heartedness Jeremiah 29:13
3. Faith Mark 11:24
4. Righteousness James 5:16
5. Obedience 1 John 3:22
God brings the baby church their answer as Peter is freed from prison. They really didn’t expect an answer though, because they didn’t believe he was there. In fact, they left him knocking at the gate as she ran inside… Many of us are the same way…off doing our own thing, while the answer is here and we are not ready to receive it. Daniel waited more than 20 days for the answer to His prayer, although the answer was dispatched immediately.
How often God's people cry out for help to God, but switch channels before God's message comes through. They turn to other sources for help, looking for human help. When you cry out to God for His intervention, don't switch channels!
The problem is that many of you aren’t as concerned about waiting for the answer as not liking the answer you’re going to get….........I asked God to take away my pride, and God said, "NO." He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give it up. I asked God to make my handicapped child whole, and God said, "NO." He said the child's spirit is whole, the body is only temporary. I asked God to grant me patience and God said, "NO." He said that patience is a by product of tribulation. It isn't granted it's earned. I asked God to give me happiness and God said, "NO." He said He gives blessings, happiness is up to me. I asked God to spare me pain, and God said, "NO." He said suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me. I asked God to make my spirit grow, and God said, "NO." He said I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful. I asked God if He loved me, and God said, "YES." He gave me his only Son who died for me and I will be in Heaven someday because I believe. I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me, and God said, "AH, FINALLY, YOU HAVE THE IDEA."
Not praying is not just a bad habit; or a lack of commitment; it is SIN. We are called to partner together as a church body and battle together.