Many years ago, a businessman began to build a tavern in a town that had never had such places. When a church nearby discovered the man’s plans, they became upset and decided to pray, asking God to intervene. One night there was a terrible thunderstorm and lightning struck the tavern, burning it to the ground. When the businessman heard of the church’s prayer meetings, he hired a lawyer and sued them for causing the fire. In defense, the church hired a lawyer stating that the fire was not their fault. Hearing of the court case, one citizen of the community commented, “It seems that the businessman believes more in the power of prayer than the church!”
Scripture reveals another time when the church failed to believe in the power of 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 trial after the Passover.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison…
…he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. (Acts 12:1-17)
Do you believe in the power of prayer? Do you believe that through prayer God can open doors that were once shut, and shut doors that were once opened? My desire is that today’s devotional will encourage each of us all to pray more and to believe in the power of our prayers!