We’ve all dealt with discrimination in one way or another. Maybe you’ve faced race, gender, age, or religious discrimination. We’ve also seen people around the world being persecuted for their race, gender, or even religion. These acts of discrimination and persecution are not new. An example of this was Peter in the Bible.
At a time when King Herod was persecuting Christians, he ordered the arrest of Peter. As you can imagine, the church was scared, and they gathered to pray.
Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, to do them harm. And he had James the brother of John executed with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter as well. (Now these were the days of Unleavened Bread.) When he had arrested him, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending only after the Passover to bring him before the people. So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made to God intensely by the church. -Acts 12:1-5
Many of us can only imagine what Peter was going through being guarded by soldiers and knowing what had happened with James. What would you do in this situation? Knowing that you were next in line to be killed. In Peter’s case, the church was praying fervently. Peter’s story suddenly shifts as the power of prayer emerges.
On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near Peter, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Put on your belt and strap on your sandals.” And he did so. And he *said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and continued to follow, and yet he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. Now when they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. -Acts 12:6-10
Have you prayed fervently as a collective? Have you prayed for hours as a collective? It is transformative to be in the presence of others praying together at the same time. Because of this prayer God was with Peter. An angel went down to Peter and said, “Get up quickly.” This statement and those that follow is very much an escape where Peter gets ready, puts on his cloak and sandals, and follows the angel.
Peter reminds us that we can all be persecuted for our faith and that we must be willing to stand up for what we believe in. He also reminds us that prayer can change what you think is your destiny. Because of the church’s fervent prayer, God favored Peter.
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they followed My word, they will follow yours also. -John 15:20
God not only favored Peter, but he led him to freedom. He was the one that helped him escape when it seemed as though he was destined to be killed by King Herod.