The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”
When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!”
“You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” (Acts 12:6-15)
Herod had Peter arrested during the Passover celebration. This was a strategic move, since more Jews were in the city than usual, and Herod could impress the most people. Herod’s plan undoubtedly was to execute Peter, but the believers were praying for Peter’s safety. The earnest prayer of the church significantly affected the outcome of these events (see also James 5:16). We can be people of faith who believe that God answers the prayers of those who seek his will.
Prayer changes things, so pray often and with confidence and thanksgiving. The prayers of the group of believers were answered, even as they prayed. But when the answer arrived at the door, they didn’t believe it. What is the most surprising answer to prayer you’ve ever received? Why were you surprised?