Acts: Day 18

Peter Rescued by an Angel

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Today's Text: Acts 12:1-25, Mark 10:35-40, Isaiah 42:8

Text: Acts 12:1-25, Mark 10:35-40, Isaiah 42:8

Peter’s position seemed dire. He was in prison and scheduled for execution the following day (Acts 12:6). But I love the response of the Church here; they didn’t start a letter-writing campaign, or stage a protest—they gathered together to pray. And after they gathered together, instead of just angrily shouting about what to do next, they actually prayed.

This was their solution to an impossible situation. God was teaching His people what it means to be the Church. He was teaching them—and us—how to solve impossible problems. The answer is simply this: pray. It’s such a simple answer that they found it hard to believe it would actually work. They were surprised when Peter showed up at the door with the shackles off his hands (Acts 12:6-16).

God is so abundantly good, sometimes we don’t even see it. When He moves in a direct response to prayer we are inclined to miss it; we’d never dare to dream that His goodness extends far enough to answer our requests. In fact, sometimes we forget to pray at all!

What if God uses pain to draw us to Him? It’s possible that dangers and struggles come to drive the Church to prayer—not because He needs us to pray, and not because He needs us to give glory to Him, but because He’s turning our gaze back toward Him. Surely, God’s glory and purposes aren’t subject to what we do or don’t do. In his book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis put it this way: “For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.”

God uses trials to bring us to prayer—to change us. He calls us to do His work, and sometimes that work feels impossible. Unthinkable things happen to us, marriages fail, parents get sick, our sweet new babies die—our hearts are broken. But we are not called to despair, or even to fear (Isaiah 41:10), because it’s in the places of deep darkness that God does His greatest work.

Let us join with the saints of the early Church and use every hardship as an occasion to pray. We, too, can believe in God’s abundant goodness, and see how the gospel can flourish and multiply (Acts 12:24), even in times of persecution.

Are you hurting today? Are you mourning the loss of the life you imagined? Does it seem like there is no solution, no hope? You are not alone. Receive that: you are not alone. Let your sadness, hurt, and despair prompt you to pray.

God is at work, even when we struggle to believe.

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  • Colliet2010

    But I love the response of the Church here; they didn’t start a letter-writing campaign, or stage a protest—they gathered together to pray. And after they gathered together, instead of just angrily shouting about what to do next, they actually prayed.”

    We have a great privilege to come before the triune God and yet we don’t take advantage of it, at least I don’t .
    With this years upcoming election and the prospects looking grim my response has not been one of prayer but of floundering. I pray that the Church will unite and prayer will ensue. I trust that God will move among the body of believers as their eyes turn back to Him the orchestrator of life itself, the One who’s throne and reign is eternal and forever. Let us not throw in the towel and think that our country is too far gone for God to save it. God is mighty to save this country, our cities, our families and loved ones. We just need to believe and pray!

    • Lindsay

      Thank you for your application of prayer to life today! Yes, we CAN do something, even when things seem hopeless, and we feel powerless. We have the greatest power within the reach of prayer!

  • Mm love this even as we face really hard times throughout America and the world, and as politics continue to be surprising and horrible. We must believe that not our answers but GOD’S are granted, that HIS will would be done. Pray and have peace.
    http://www.thegirlontheverge.com

  • Elizabeth

    Yes prayer is so powerful

  • I am behind in readings due to being out of the country for a couple weeks so this was my reading after waking to news of the Dallas shootings (I love with in a couple hours) and a text that a friends three year old has been diagnosed with cancer. What a timely reminder to pray, God of miracles come. Thank you for being His vessel

  • Love this. Needed this today even though I’m running a few days behind.

  • Ellington

    Praying for you Janet, Lisa, and Lynne!

  • In the wake of Orlando this is such a wonderful devotion. I pray that God will bring healing to all those who were hurt, and I pray that he will be with those who have the power to change laws for the better of our nation. Man falls short again and again but God does not.

  • Muriel, your words today remind me of the verses in Isaiah 40 that promise that you will run & not grow weary; you will walk & not faint. Praying for an extra infusion of hope as He carries you & your family through, one step – one prayer – at a time. Blessings.

  • Enjoyed today’s SRT that I read it again this afternoon. This time I read the comments. Love what the churchmouse had to say today. Her godly counsel spoke to me in a great way. We are in a gray period right now (never thought of it like that till today). Please, my sisters. My family and I are trying to hold on to hope and not grow weary.

  • Michelle Bates

    prayer is important, yes. it is our key and communication to our Savior, but there are so many times, especially as if late, I have no words. none. Romans 8:24 (I think) the holy spirit will groan when I have no words. he will intercede for me. when loss and hurt and pain are too big to put into words, the holy spirit is there for us. these last 8 months, our family has groaned, and the Lord has been near and gracious.

  • JESSIEJAP

    “This was their solution to an impossible situation. God was teaching His people what it means to be the Church. He was teaching them—and us—how to solve impossible problems. The answer is simply this: pray.”

    I don’t know about any of y’all, but this year’s election came to mind with this. I’m sure a lot of us have a spent a lot of time complaining about the Crap Sandwich (as Jen Hatmaker so eloquently put it) we’ve been dealt, but how many of us are actually praying? Praying for our country, for what seems like an impossible situation spiraling out of control, for our leaders, for wisdom on how to handle the election. Imagine what could happen if instead of sounding off opinions and complaints and creating division within the church, we came together and prayed?

    • Sarah Jenik

      Amen sister! As someone that is deeply disheartened by the election and the current state our country is this was a good reminder to start praying and stop whining

    • Marie

      Thank you for your challenge. I will pray about that very thing today!

  • My theme song for this season of time…..I know my group of shes will relate
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAmh3yvmzXs

  • I wanted to know if I could ask for prayer for my daughter. She is 20 and lives with her boyfriend and is doing things that are not healthy for her. Please pray that she would surrender to the Lord and that He would bring godly people into her life. She is hanging with the wrong crowd and her heart is very cold. I know that He can do anything but when I see her life I doubt God. I am so worried that she could die from the choices that she is making. Please pray!! Thanks!!

    • Sydney

      Praying!

    • Cathy

      Praying now for your daughter.

    • Rayo

      Hi Lynne, I know it hurts to see your daughter like this but I also know that God is working on bringing her back to him. As someone who until recently lived a life that must have made my parents worry like this, I know first hand that even in such situations God used events to bring me back to him. I pray He comforts your heart, and that her salvation comes soon. But do not be weary because He is working to bring her to Him.

    • Janet

      I will be praying for your daughter and all those who love her so dearly.

    • Michelle Buzek

      Praying for both you and your daughter Lynne!

  • Keri Underwood

    “God is at work, even when we struggle to believe.” – I can’t tell you how much I needed to read that this morning. Please be in prayer for some family relationships as we navigate new waters. Thank you and blessing to you all!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  • Prayer is always the answer. Thank you LORD for hearing our prayers.

  • Caroline

    Yes yes yes. “What if God uses pain to draw us to Him?” What if? There is no “what if.” He DOES use pain to draw us to him! So thankful

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • Exactly what I needed to hear today. When we feel all hope is lost, is when God is up to his greatest victory. Thank you Jesus for being my anchor! I believe that you will deliver.

  • I would like to ask my SRT sisters in Christ to please pray for my 30 year old son. I have been praying for him for so long. My heart hurts. My son will tell you that he knows the Lord, but God has been placed neatly on the back burner for so long. This past year he has struggled with depression and has not been working. His dad and I thought he was improved as he decided to move 3300 miles away to explore a new place to live and work. However, he has been there for nearly two months and is still not working. It is not a question of whether work is available…the job is waiting for him. He has depleted his resources and, I fear, is in the grips of the depression. I don’t know how to help him. I cry out to God but have yet to see Him. I am waiting…
    Thank you to all who are willing to pray..

    • Lisa-Jane

      My husband suffers from depression & hasn’t been able to work for a very long time. It’s not that he doesn’t want to. Sometimes this horrible disease makes it impossible. I’ll be praying. For peace for you & for your son.

    • Brandi

      Praying with you!

    • C Gunckel

      Janet, my heart hurts for you and your son. I am praying for him and this situation.

    • Ashley

      Praying your son finds peace in the Lord. Wait on God, He won’t fail you sister

    • Keri Underwood

      Praying Janet!

    • Sydney

      Gods timing is ALWAYS better than our own. Praying for you and your sweet son today.
      xo

  • In his book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis put it this way: “For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.”

    C.S. Lewis is one of those people I wish I could have corresponded with — or at least had over to dinner a few times. I think this quote will be going into my journal.

    • Kathie

      I agree! I LOVE the quote! The power of prayer. It’s so simple but often not the first response. May I continue to be mindful that this should be my first response always!

    • Ruth

      Won’t Eternity be great Dinners w C S and so many others

  • Christina Gandy

    Wow!!! All of the responses to the passages make me feel at home! I’m definitely not alone in my trials. My calling is to be an excellent visual artist. In fact, we are all artists, and I believe God gave us the power to create our lives through his will. I did not start seriously making art until my first semester of college, an angel hugged me in a dream and told me to go to the Fine Art building and get into the program. I have struggled with addiction and am finally back home in the church. I am looking for a better full-time job to supplement my income and provide more to make art. I have been praying a lot. My sister sent me a notice of a Christian art competition. I thought I wasted a year in graduate school for Social Work. One of the projects deals with our immigration law (social welfare policy), another with the Madonna and Celebrity Madonna. I’m excited to focus on God’s work and am excited I have art supplies left over from doing other tasks.

  • Thanks for the reminder that prayer is powerful and it should be our first response to diffuse situations not the Hail Mary we wait to do at the end once we have exhausted all other options.

    • Krystle

      “It should be our first response to diffuse situations not the Hail Mary we wait to do at the end once we have exhausted all other options.” I love this! Thank you Dawn!

  • Prayer has changed my life…and my relationship with God. I went from being forced to pray as a child to doing it out of obligation as an adult. There was a disconnect for many years, until my mom fell ill and I took to my knees in a way I never knew I could. I think back to the woman I was three years ago when I was truly saved and I thank God for that moment and tribulation. It seems as though every situation since then has been met with deeper prayer and appreciation for growth. I went from not knowing what to say to praying out loud with others. The Holy Spirit took hold of me and changed me into a prayer warrior. While the pain can be mind-numbing at times, there is ultimately sweet joy in trusting God.

  • “God uses trials to bring us to prayer—to change us. He calls us to do His work, and sometimes that work feels impossible. Unthinkable things happen to us, marriages fail, parents get sick, our sweet new babies die—our hearts are broken. But we are not called to despair, or even to fear (Isaiah 41:10), because it’s in the places of deep darkness that God does His greatest work”

    In paragraphs like this I am reminded of one of the darkest seasons in my life … when I was leaving a city and state I only been in a short time but loved to separate from my husband, again. This was a time God had been clear to me that this was what I was to do but I had nothing to make this happen and two young kiddos in tow. Tired, desperate, sad, angry, hurt, scared … all words easily used to describe myself then and it all culminated on a day we had a yard sale. I sold so many things I loved to help, family treasures, generational pieces and I struggled with the many questions from the buyers that day. I knew I did not have enough boxes to make the move happen and was prayerful to the point of desperation that day and sure enough God came through (and in the months post for my marriage). That day, He used a complete stranger with a great message to physically deliver my own personal boxes. It is a long and beautiful, detailed story but I am sharing it in brief because it serves as a reminder to me that prayer works, sometimes the very day you utter your first request over something and sometimes years and years into praying for it, but the bottomline is, God is our Father, a good Father who desires to gift us our needs in amazing ways. Luke 11:11 comes to mind; “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” … God never fails, He always manages to come through in bold and surprising ways and leaves me only wanting more of Him. He IS the answer to prayer, He IS the answer to everything!

    • Joanna

      Amen B. Thank you for sharing and for the reminder that He always, always come through. It’s up to us to remain faithful even in the most desperate of circumstances.

  • Wow, I so needed to read this today! Over the years, my father has had numerous affairs with other women. He and my mother stayed together through the first two or three, but have split up and gotten back together several times in the years since then. My mother is a woman of God and has constantly been in prayer for him. I remember sometime last year I told her I had stopped praying for him. A baby was now on the way and the situation seemed more hopeless than ever, so why pray? But the Lord has changed my heart in recent months. I have been seeking Him in prayer daily to pray for my father and others who desperately need Christ. Doing this has humbled me as well because I had gotten to the point where I wouldn’t even call my father much anymore. Now I try to make more of an effort to check in with him and let him know I love him. I have also started to pray for his new baby and her mother, which I would never have expected. Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes lives. Even if right now, it’s only mine. I believe my father will be delivered. The song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle has been stuck in my head this week and I thought I would share the chorus on here:

    When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
    When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
    When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
    I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

    Praying that we will all trust God fully today and continue to reach out to Him in prayer.

    • ~ B ~

      Oh Kristi, do I understand your story but as your mother in it. I am so grateful to hear your heart change and your continued prayers over your father and those he has allowed into his life. Prayer for others isn’t just for them, it serves to humble us too and that is something you’ve obviously picked up on. I will also be prayerful over your entire family, over you. What a beautiful addition to your family’s life your prayers are!!!

    • Gina

      I love that song Kristi! Happy you have found some peace in a tough situation. Hope is truly an anchor for our soul!

  • That our life needs to be grounded in Him and the peace we are looking for in any situation is always Him.

    • Shannon H

      Gina, yes! I want thinking about how the church most assuredly prayed for James too, but James was killed for His faith. That doesn’t mean God was not with James or that He didn’t listen to the prayers of His people! In both circumstances, the death of James and the dramatic rescue of Peter, the church was learning to keep their eyes on Christ and that Jesus is more precious than anything we might be afraid of losing…even our lives!

  • Through Peters rescue the believers became stronger and more in number but the circumstances around them stayed the same. The enemy was still after them. Sometimes we look to prayer as simply a rescue from our situation but what if God wants to do something more in our hearts? I think this is a good example of what prayer can do, it can rescue but also can help us stand strong through trials and keep us standing on solid ground. It’s easy to be scared and get wrapped in a situation we just want to go away but ultimately He wants us to see

  • Michelle

    Although I know prayer is very important, when I’m being challenged or hurting, I find it so hard to speak a prayer. I’m currently recovering from a divorce and there were so many times I couldn’t find the words to say to God. The pain silenced me, but I spoke with my heart & through my tears. Some days, all I could do was just call on His name! But He heard my cry and I’m being healed day by day! Prayer, no matter how long or short, changes things. I am a living witness.

    • Kathie

      God knows that and He will provide people in your life to help carry you. Blessings sweet lady.

  • Amen Kelly and me too

  • churchmouse

    “It’s the places of deepest darkness that God does His greatest work.” True… And sometimes the aftermath of the deepest darkness is a prolonged period of gray. That is where the devil likes to attack, when we are holding on to hope yet oh so weary. In the grayness it is good to do as the Church did here in Acts: gather together and pray. Reach out to even one faith-full believer and together persevere in prayer. Each prayer is kindling until the gray is dispersed and the fire of His presence blazes forth. The battle is won.

    • Mary Beth

      Yes! We need to cling to God through the darkness and the gray, and praying for those who are going through it. Thanks for that reminder

    • Joanna

      Yes, you speak the truth! So often when the darkest time is over there is still a period of uncertainty before God lovingly reveals His lesson. It’s so comforting to have at least one person to help you pray when you don’t have the strength to do it yourself. Have a blessed day!

    • JamiB

      Oh yes, thank you for voicing this perspective! That’s where I am now as my prodigal son goes deeper into a lifestyle opposite of everything we are as a family. The pain is sharp and heavy every day and after fasting and praying for more than a year, I constantly fight Satan’s desire to steal my hope. And I’m so weary as you say. But prayer has been my rock and I’ve seen amazing prayer time with others holding us up. No matter how long, I will keep praying!

    • Suzanne

      Amen!!!

  • Kelly Smith

    Prayer is not always my first response. I am a planner and a strategizer. I lean on my clever ideas and problem solving skills. Sometimes it does require an impossible situation to pry my prideful eyes off of myself and turn them to Jesus. Oh that I would keep my gaze firmly fixed on Christ, directing my first cry for help to him instead of trying to fix things myself.

    • Rosebergamot

      Thanks for this post. It spoke to me. I too tend to lean on my own problem solving and I don’t pray nearly enough. I think it’s a control and trust issue for me. I need to trust him. Trust that he hears me and is in control.

    • KathyH

      I can identify.. Especially when the world says -be self sufficient and independent and Jesus says- depend on me and cast your cares on me and I will provide. I am trying to pray before strategizing… Great reminder this morning as I have spent two days trying to plan and work out schedules and vacations… Without praying about it.

    • drasch

      In your boat, I even have my own paddle. I find that when I problem-solve and strategize rather than looking to God, I do exactly what Proverbs 3:5 tells me NOT to do: I lean on my own understanding rather than Him. This builds pride (“Look at what I did all by myself” and is something I’ve struggled with for years. So important a reminder to put prayer first.

  • There is great power in prayer! May the Lord grant that prayer be my first response to any situation.

  • I needed this today, thank you.

  • Elisabeth

    This was so needed! Prayer is something I tend to forget or leave out. But it really is important and it really has an impact. Please pray for me that this becomes easier for me.

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