From the desk of Steve Patton
"...but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church." (Acts 12.5)
Herod was on a rampage against the church. James had been beheaded. Peter was sitting in prison waiting his execution. Most would have felt all alone and fearful. Maybe Peter felt some of that. Even if he was apprehensive about his impending death, there were two things he knew: This was in God’s hands, and his brethren were pouring out their hearts in earnest prayer for him.
There is great comfort in the prayers of the saints. Revelation says they rise before God like sweet incense (Rev. 5.8; 8.4) The prayers of the righteous have “great power as it is working" (Jas. 5.16). Peter knew this and was even quietly sleeping the night before his execution. He did not fear what man could do to him. In this case God provided a miraculous release from prison and the sparing of Peter’s life. Peter would have been fine if that had not happened. But God wanted Peter to live and intervened to thwart wicked Herod’s plan.
When we face great trial we need the prayers of the saints. We need to know they are truly concerned about us and our trials. When needs are shared we should respond with great comfort and prayer.
I honestly feel we do not offer concerted prayer enough. Some Sundays the total time we spend in prayer together all day is less than ten minutes. I suspect the early church would be shocked at that. Prayer was at the center of their worship. The apostles thought it was one of the two most important parts of their work (Acts 6.4). However much time we spend together in prayer it should include fervent pleas to God on the behalf of those suffering through sickness, sorrow, and the pain of their trials. Pray fervently every day for each other. That is not just what God wants; it is what He expects. Thank God for this tremendous blessing of prayer. And let those suffering know you are praying for them.