Peter finally came to his senses. "It's really true!" he said. "The Lord has sent His angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!" Acts 12:11
Have you ever prayed a prayer, only to be shocked to find that God answered it? I can think of a number of times that this has happened to me. I have prayed very specific prayers, asking God to work in a certain area of my life, but, honestly, I did not believe God would actually answer. Then God answered in a very specific way, and I was shocked. Each time, after the shock wore off, I wondered why I was so surprised. After all, God listens and responds when we pray. He even sends angels to us as a response to our prayer.
As the Commander of Angel Armies, we learn in Scripture that God sends His angels to believers when they pray. This can be seen in Acts 12:1-19. In these verses in Acts, Peter is in prison, completely guarded so that there is no way to escape, and his outcome looks bleak. This is a time of persecution for the church, and after several days, Peter is expected to be put on trial and executed. Not all hope is lost, however.
Acts 12:5 begins with the conjunction "but" signaling that God is still working. This verse says, "But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him." When the church starts praying for Peter, God moves! The night before Peter is to be placed on trial, an angel comes to him and leads him out of prison, unharmed and unnoticed by the 16 men guarding him. Peter was in disbelief of what God did for him, and he went straight to the house of a woman named Mary, where several believers were praying for him. At first, the believers in the house did not even believe it was really Peter. Instead of expecting God to answer their prayers, they, like Peter, were shocked when they learned that He had actually answered them by sending this angel to rescue Peter.
The same God who sent an angel to Peter is the same God we serve today. He unleashes His angels and sends them to us when we pray. We are not alone; we have the God of Angel Armies and His angels fighting for us. Remembering this when we pray to Him should dramatically change our prayer life. We can pray confidently and expectantly, knowing that God and His angels are with us.
When you pray, do you pray expectantly? Do you pray remembering that your God is the God of Angel Armies? Do you believe that He sends His angels when we pray? Today, spend time journaling, answering this question: How might this belief that God sends His angels when we pray change your prayer life? Then, make a list of five prayer requests that can only be answered by God's intervention. Commit to praying over these things expectantly.
Read Acts 12:1-19 (NLT)
About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”
When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!”
“You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.”
Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers what happened,” he said. And then he went to another place.
At dawn there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter. Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death. Afterward Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.
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