We are thankful that by the Grace of God, his enduring mercies and faithfulness he has given us an opportunity to serve him in the year 2020. It is a time to think about what God wants us to accomplish in his kingdom for this year. As we begin the month of prayer, let us create time to be available in his presence and seek his face earnestly for clear guidance and strength to face the challenges and opportunities ahead of us.
In Acts 12, three major scenes cannot be avoided. The chapter begins with the death of James followed by the miraculous deliverance of Peter and ends with the death of Herod, the murderer struck by God and eaten by worms.
Before the death of James the church had just experienced the conversion of high ranking officials like Paul and the centurion in chapter 10. The twelve were also still enjoying divine protection but certainly death started from the inner circle. One would wonder why but it is also clear that Jesus never promised any special protection but persecution was open for all. In Mark 10:35-45, James and John had also admitted that they will share the cup that Jesus was going to drink. Persecution facilitated the building of a praying church. Let me highlight three issues in this praying Church.
Prayer was offered to God by the church. While the church was powerless to get Peter out of prison, powerless to approach the soldiers, they had power to approach God who was above every prison commander. When every other gate is shut and locked, the gate to heaven is wide open and believers take advantage of that open gate through prayer.
They prayed earnestly meaning that believers stretched their hearts passionately on things that God cared about. They were in Christ and Christ was in them (John 15:7). God answers prayer when we choose to depend on him entirely. It was at night and the believers had not rested. We need to rise up and cease the opportunity to call on the Lord for the different issues that makes God’s heart to weep.
God intervened and set Peter free. Irrespective of the security and chains in prison, God gave Peter sleep. Secondly Peter was on the death row but he rested in the Lord because the believers were praying for him. Are you standing in the gap for someone today?
In a state of political turmoil, believers are supposed to be alert not in physical battle but on their knees because the gates of heaven are always open. One thing that king Herod did not understand was that by killing and imprisoning believers, he was attacking God. In history nobody has ever fought God. He took advantage after the death of Stephen and James; it was now easy to destroy all of them steadily and quickly. Herod positioned himself as a god and the angel of the Lord struck him dead in his royal robes and he was eaten by worms. There is always an end to evil no matter how long it takes. Let the believers take their position. Let us take advantage of the open heavenly gate and approach the throne in great confidence. By so doing we shall build a praying church and no gates of hell shall ever prevail against it.
The Very Rev. Canon Dr. Rebecca Nyegenye