In this blog Adam Martin from the United Kingdom shares three lessons about prayer.

“It was about this time that king Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trail after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him”. – Acts 12:1-5

Earnest prayer

The first thing that I want you to get hold of is that prayer in a crisis needs to be earnest prayer, fervent prayer. We read that the church was praying earnestly for Peter. That wasn’t half-hearted passive prayer, in fact, that word for earnest prayer is the same word used to describe Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, which was certainly not half-hearted.

Samuel Chadwick said that “intensity is a law of prayer. There are blessings of the Kingdom that are only yielded to the violence of the vehement soul”.

Would you describe your prayer as violent? I think, sometimes we need to really stir ourselves to call on God for the breakthrough. Just as earnest as the early church was praying earnestly for Peter to be delivered. They knew that this was a life or death situation.

Persistent prayer

That prayer meeting in Acts 12 was not just overnight. They prayed when Peter was put in prison and they kept on praying until he was released. In fact, they were still in a prayer meeting when he came knocking on the door, to tell them that he was free.

There are others in the Bible who prayed persistently, until they saw the breakthrough. Think of Elijah. God had given him a promise that the drought would come to an end. And yet, he had to pray seven times before the rain began to fall. Or the prophet Daniel, who prayed and the answer was twenty-one days delayed, as an angel was in a spiritual battle to bring him the answer to his prayer.

Spurgeon once said: “If you want to see a fruit fall from the tree, you just have to keep on shaking the tree for the fruit to drop”. Are you ready to shake the tree in prayer until you see the fruit that you are looking for?

United in prayer

In verse 12 it says: “many people had gathered and were praying”. You know that there is power in agreement. What more is it going to take you to stir you to pray together for a breakthrough? The kind of prayer that has got us here, won’t get us to where we want to go. In other words, the way we have sown up, until now has only brought us a certain harvest. If you want to see a significant harvest across Europe in our generation, then we’re going to have to sow generously in prayer.

It doesn’t need to be a large group, or hundreds of people praying to see the breakthrough that we’re looking for. David Fritsch said this: “Don’t despise small prayer gatherings. Every major revival has its origins with a small band of intercessors faithfully crying out! Small gatherings precede big breakthroughs. When we gather to worship and pray, regardless of the size, we convene the very court of heaven on earth. Our prayer gatherings are the most important and powerful gatherings of our city”.

It may feel like there is just a few of us. It is not of any consequence when we meet to pray, but heaven is leaning in to listen.

Next steps

We should stir ourselves to pray, that we would pray like the early church. Praying with intensity, persistently and praying together. Peter was released from that prison cell. God sent angels from heaven, the gates flew open and he was free. The church was built up and encouraged. I wonder what God will do as a result of our prayers together!

What can you do for your own prayer life?

  1. It might be that you need to set yourself the discipline of just having a daily prayer time. Or set your alarm to wake you up, a bit earlier, so that you can have a proper time in the Lord’s Presence at the start of the day. Decide what you are going to do. Make a clear commitment and get started.
  2. Can I encourage you to find maybe a couple of other people and agree a pattern of prayer together. There is power when we agree together in prayer. Decide who you would like to pray with, when and how often you are going to pray. Get started!
  3. Do something radical. It might be that you could plan a (half) night of prayer to worship God and praying for each other, the needs you see around you and praying for a breakthrough.

Ask for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Invest some of your time for something that will have eternal significance. I can assure you, you will certainly see fruit.

What steps can you take now?  

This article is a summary. Adam Martin shared this message during the Advance! conference in September 2021. With thanks to Jon Tyson from Church of the City, NY, for his insights.

Recommended Posts