Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 5, 2016

Wrought By Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer — a tradition that predates the founding of the United States of America. In 1775, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation setting aside a day of prayer and asking the colonies to pray for divine wisdom in forming a nation.

Ntl Day of Prayer Banner
In 1952, President Harry Truman signed a joint resolution of Congress to establish a National Day of Prayer. In 1988, this law was amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan to officially designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

Ntl Day of Prayer 2016
Every year, the President signs a proclamation, inviting all Americans to take part in praying for guidance, grace, and protection for our great Nation as we address the challenges of our time. And the challenges of our time are indeed great and require that we personally and corporately look to God for wisdom.

One of the most powerful corporate prayer meetings in the first century happened after Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great, had James the brother of John put to death (Acts 12:1-2). After putting James to death, Herod saw a spike in his popularity ratings (Acts 12:3), so he had Peter arrested and thrown into prison with the intent of putting him to death.

Herod, however, postponed Peter’s execution until after the Passover. In the meantime, the church assembled for prayer at the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12). Acts 12:5 summarizes what happened: “So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

Peter’s imprisonment was the catalyst for bringing the church together. The conjunction “but” marks a turning point in the story — “but prayer for him.” When folks heard that Peter had been imprisoned they got together and interceded for him. Instead of lobbying before the throne of Herod they went before the throne of God.

I love the fact that their prayer was intense. The verse tells us that prayer for Peter “was being made fervently.” They put all of their heart into their prayer. The late R.A, Torrey said, “If we put so little heart into our prayers, we cannot expect God to put much heart into answering them.”

Their fervent prayer was also indivisible. The church was united in their appeal. They were all “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:2). Jesus taught His disciples the importance of offering a symphony of prayer to God (Matt. 18:19).

Finally, the prayer of the church was intentional. In other words, they prayed “to God.” They understood that Peter’s imprisonment was certainly bigger than anything they could handle. But they also understood that God was bigger than their problem and more than capable of handling the situation. And indeed He did. Peter was miraculously released from prison.

As for Herod — well, he died an unexpected death (Acts 12:20-23). As for the purposes of God — they continued to flourish (Acts 12:24-25). Alfred Lord Tennyson was right in his observation: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” May we remember that as we intercede for our nation on this National Day of Prayer.


Responses

  1. AMEN!!


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