Sun, Feb 19, 2023
Teacher: John Dimmick Series: The Acts of the Apostles Scripture: Acts 12:1-25
PRAYING FOR IMPOSSIBLE THINGS
Today, we want to focus our attention on how the Holy Spirit is involved in our prayer lives and we will begin by unpacking this expression in Acts 12:5 – “the church was praying fervently for him.”
The Gr. word for “prayer” is the most common, generic word used in the Scriptures for prayer. The next word “fervent” is an adverb describing how the church was praying. Quite literally, the Gr. word used to describe how \the church was praying refers to a physical action like “extending or reaching out your hand or stretching a muscle. When this word is applied as an adverb to the act of praying, it means constant tension. Every day that Peter is in prison, the church is praying constantly because the tension is reaching a breaking point. There is a third Gr. word involved in describing how the church was praying that simply conveys that the church was fully aware of Peter’s situation and if God did not intervene, he would be killed.
This is the church praying to God for Peter in what seems to be an impossible situation. When you think of fervent prayers, remember these 3 words: constant; tension; awareness.
This is the type of situation where we see the Holy Spirit at work in our prayers. Write in your margin two cross references to Acts 12:5. These references are - Romans 8:26-29; and, Luke 22:42
*You will notice on your connection card this commitment: I will commit to pray this week for godly things that feel impossible. When you make this commitment remember this:
1. whatever you are praying for is not a one & done type of prayer. It is a constant burden that you will carry day in, day out.
2. whatever you are praying for also involves the Holy Spirit who is praying for you. Be clear about this: however God answers your prayer, His will is beingworked out in your life.
3. whatever you are praying for is an opportunity for spiritual growth and conformity
In verses 6-10, we see how God answered the church’s prayers for Peter. On the very night before Peter was to be brought out for execution, verse 7 says that “suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell.” The angel woke him up and gave him these action steps:
“Quick, get up; Get dressed and put on your sandals; Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” Acts 12:7-8
Peter did exactly what the angel told him to do but he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed by the first and second guards, the outer gate that leads into the city opened to them by itself. They went outside, turned onto a side street that was hidden from the prison and “suddenly the angel left him.” Acts 12:9-10. Notice verse 11:
“When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s grasp and from all the Jewish people expected.”
Do you know what every person has in common that has suffered and endured persecution? They have a story to tell about their rescue from danger!
Being “rescued from danger” is a salvation metaphor.
Penny and I have an evangelist friend, Ron Hutchcraft, who uses this salvation metaphor as the primary motivator for Christians to be more concerned for the lost and passionate about sharing the love of Jesus.
From Peter’s own testimony in Acts 12:11, he seems to make this very same connection. His miraculous deliverance from the Tower of Antonia, the very place where the Roman troops were barracked at the northeastern corner of the Temple Complex in Jerusalem, reminded him of the grace and power of God in his own salvation.
When Peter had this awakening, “he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark where many were assembled and were praying,” Acts 12:12. Peter knew where a Life Group was meeting and so he made his way there. I don’t have time to really comment on Rhoda’s response to Peter knocking or the mindset of the brethren praying there, but verse 17 has some importance in the story.
“Motioning to them with his had to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. “Tell these things to James and the brothers,” he said, andhe left and went to another place.”
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