When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. – Acts 12:10 KJV
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King Herod had just killed James, the brother of John with the sword and seeing that it pleased the Jews decided to do same to Peter. After apprehending him, he imprisoned him with four quaternions of soldiers to ensure that he does not escape. It is important here to note how evil, if unchallenged, is encouraged to perpetuate itself. Imagine how the life of James could have been saved, or further still, how Peter could have been saved the trauma of prison experience, if the church had anticipated the move of King Herod, and so had started praying to forestall it. Their not watching (Matt. 26:41), or being unaware of the devices of the devil (2Cor. 2:11) took them through a possible preventable trauma. Christians with regards to Satan must be pro-active rather than reactive, so as to avoid being victims.
The church this time, however took it upon themselves to pray for him, and it looked like the prayers were going to achieve nothing as the day for Peter to be killed drew nearer and nothing seemed to be happening. However, on the eve of the appointed day for him to be killed, the Almighty God showed up and commenced the process of a great miracle. This is an example of how to pray relentlessly. Christians unconsciously, attach a time line within which they expect their prayers to be answered. What this does to them eventually, is to frustrate them at the place of prayer if expected response is not obtained on or before this time line. This becomes more likely because God is not bound by the time lines of men. If anything, the reverse is the reality. To attempt to time God is to seek frustration in the place of prayer. It is yours to pray with belief that it will be done and leave the how and when, of receiving answers to Him. Be assured however that He will never arrive late.
Right there in the prison, the Bible reports that Peter was bound in chains, even in his sleep, with soldiers on both sides of him to ensure he does not escape, but when the angel of the Lord showed up, none of the soldiers could hold him back as he woke Peter up, led him through two gates and through the 3rd and final gate which was made of iron and that led into the city street, where he left him to move on with his life. What a wonderful experience it must have been for Peter, just as it is for anyone reading about this event today, thousands of years after. Sometimes, it is easy to pray when there is no problem but when real problems show up, the individual will need the help and support of others to get out of the situation no matter the level of his/her spirituality. Most times, the person in incarceration is so weak like this case of Peter. He was already chained down and deprived of any dignity by the removal of his clothes and other items of dressing. The individual in such state is humiliated and psychologically defeated and so, cannot even think right. That is when the support of fellow Christians is required. No one is bigger than this as even Paul asked for the support of other Christians in prayer – Rom. 15: 30-32. No one is ever bigger than prayer support from fellow Christians as no one is bigger than life challenges, especially if such is a forward looking Christian. Build a wall of prayer warriors around yourself at all times just as you should also be ready and willing to play such roles for others.
The heavy military presence deployed to ensure Peter does not escape could not hold back a single angel when the Almighty God decided to move. Christians need to know that the enemy is only powerful for as long as God has not started moving and so, need to pray ceaselessly until the movement of God has started. It is simply impossible for Satan, no matter how much forces he raises against the Christian, to win. In whatever manner God chooses to fight the battle, the assurance the Christian must have is that God will be the victor as He never looses in battle. The devil may huff and puff but against the Christian that remains in the Lord, he will always be a loser. Hallelujah!
Beyond the picture of a determined church that refused to stop praying, even when it seemed God was running late, and the obvious failure on the part of four quaternions of soldiers to hold back a single angel of God in releasing Peter from the bondage, the Bible reveals the state that Peter was whilst in incarceration. This is the state that anyone who is in such incarceration will be in;
1. The one in incarceration is in darkness.
2. The one in incarceration is in a humiliated and psychologically low state.
3. The one in incarceration is in bondage.
4. The one in incarceration is usually stripped of any form of honour.
5. The one in incarceration needs help to be released.
Many Christians today are in that state. This is not strange, after all, most Christians may not be more Christian in nature and calling than Simon Peter who is in reference here. Aside from sin, several events in life can lead to the Christian being incarcerated by Satan. All the above listed points will then apply and the earlier the individual or the Christian in particular, begins to realise that this is very possible, the better for him/her as that will help to prevent such a trauma in life. No one is bigger than the temptation of Satan just as no one in the state characterised by the points listed above will be able to pray his/her way out of that situation alone. That is why that advise in the scripture to Christians not to avoid the gatherings of fellow Christians, must be taken seriously – Heb. 10:25.
Build strong Christian alliances today so as to prepare for that period which comes suddenly on people. The alliances that Peter built before his incarceration prayed to God on his behalf and God intervened through an angel who was sent to release him.
However, there are several Christians today who are in one form of incarceration or the other and so have a life that is in disarray. They may not even know and so find themselves helpless in it, probably accepting it as their destiny. Fellow Christians must stand in the gap for them as that is their only way out, just as Paul advised that we should bear one another’s burdens – Gal. 6:2. They need prayer intervention that will lead them past all the gates that are holding them down in incarceration including the iron gates that lead into the city of comfort and peace.
In the world that we live in, the choice to live a Christian lifestyle is a decision to war with Satan. It is not a journey that can be made alone. Prepare for success on this journey by building strong Christian alliances. That remains your only key to success and eternal reward. May God continue to unite His children in Jesus name. Amen.