About that time Herod the King laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword...Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Acts 12:1-5
Forty days of prayer is not enough. It was not enough for the first century church and it's not enough for the twenty-first century church. Maybe it is enough though to create in us a discipline and passion for "earnest prayer."
The church does lots of things. There is nothing that seems more important though for the church in Acts than united, earnest prayer to the Father on behalf of one another.
Our nation and our world are increasingly uninviting to the Good News of Jesus. The sword and the prison were common outcomes for Christians in the first century, but the hard reality of today is that this is increasingly true for our day. As we seek to hear from God regarding how we can be used by him to ADVANCE His good news we have to recognize that Jesus also has promised persecution for those who pursue righteousness.
"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray" are words the New Testament church practiced. Will that be true of us? Will that be true of you?
Father I call out to you now for your help and power to be poured out in the lives of those being persecuted for their faith. Help my brothers and sisters in Christ who daily face ridicule for their love for Jesus remain faithful and to be able to rejoice in being counted worthy of suffering for your name. Please give our church courage and wisdom, along with mercy and grace to not shrink back from your Great Commission.
By Carlos Sibley