Pray Without Ceasing Acts 12:1- 5 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In this chapter, the church in Jerusalem got a real lesson in prayer. James, the brother of John, had been killed by Herod and Peter was in jail awaiting his execution. The church obviously loved Peter and wanted to see him spared and so they prayed for a miracle. One preacher suggested that they also undoubtedly prayed that he would not deny Christ again. His denial after James’ death would have severely weakened their faith. So, prayer was made without ceasing.
Look what we can learn about prayer from this passage. The church’s prayer was:
Prayer Made in Earnest – “but prayer was made” – a lot of prayers in church are dry and ritualistic – they might as well pray like the sleepy little girl “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, and when he hollers let him go, eenie, meenie, miny, mo” – what we need is real fervent prayer from the heart [Heb 5:7] – Jas 5:16 tells us that this kind of praying avails much!! The earnest prayer of this congregation was answered with a miracle jail break for Peter.
Prayer Without Ceasing – “without ceasing” – the church didn’t quit praying for Peter until he showed up at Mary’s house to show them that he had been miraculously released by the Lord – this is what praying without ceasing is all about [Lk 18, 1 Thes 5] – we have Teen Connection coming up in less than two weeks – I wonder how many would commit to praying consistently until Teen Connection to see what miracles God will work in the lives and families of these teens.
Prayer of the Church – “of the church” – most churches skip the prayer meeting these days or break it up into cell groups – here many in the church prayed together [Acts 12:12] – the saying “What we do we do together” applies as much to prayer as anything else – prayer like this unites the church with each other and more importantly with the Lord [Matt 18:19-20].
Prayer unto God – “unto God” – prayer unto God is prayer that is occupied with him and not with us – prayer unto God is prayer that raises our affections toward him and keeps us heavenly minded not earthly minded – as one man said, “when the outlook is bad, try the uplook” – God is the only one who can handle the requests we make to him – but may they be in accordance with the unlimited capacity of God’s grace – a fellow asked a young man what he would have prayed for if he had been the blind man in Jn 9 – he answered, “a nice little dog with a collar and chain to lead me” – how often we ask for the blind man’s dog rather than the seeing man’s eyes – our prayers are often like a rich man with $1,000,000 in the bank who draws out only a penny per day!
Prayer for Him – “for him” – notice that they were not praying for themselves – they were truly interceding for Peter – they could have been praying for their own protection and their own safety and out of their own fear – instead they were praying for Peter and God answered their prayer. Shortly after the Dallas Theological Seminary was founded in 1924, it went into default. The president called a prayer meeting of the faculty at which Dr. Harry Ironside prayed, “Lord we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are thine. Please sell some of them and send us the money.” Meanwhile a cattleman stepped into the business office and presented the seminary with a check representing the proceeds of the sale of two carloads of cattle. Obviously, the seminary was able to satisfy its creditors!
Conclusion: Would to God it could be said of our churches that prayer was made without ceasing.