Reading Acts 12:1-17
Gospel Matthew 7:7-14
At the end of today's Gospel, Jesus encourages us to enter the narrow gate. Though at times it may be hard to keep on the narrow path, we do not do it on our own, we walk it with Jesus. Our journey can be tough and hard. In Acts 12, things were getting tough as there's been some persecution.Not a very nice context. Steven was stoned, James was beheaded all executed by the local state. The guards are beheaded for dereliction of duty. Today persecution continues. More died for their faith in the twentieth and current centuries than in previous centuries. (1) Herod who was an eccentric put Peter in the slammer, a very secure place, no cost spared, sixteen soldiers to guard him; meanwhile, the church (v.5) was praying. They were concerned, worried and behind locked doors. And God answered their prayers. He sends an angel, the chains fall off, the gate opens. (There is no messing with angels) Peter does not realise he is free until he is out breathing fresh air, then he knocks on their door. While the others are committed to prayers, Rhoda hears the knock and tells them Peter is there. Somehow they do not believe her. So what happened? They got faith and were praying but their eyes won't open.They weren't ready for God to do the unexpected. Jesus has already told them: ask.., seek.., and knock.. (Luke 11:9). Sometimes, God has initiated the answers to prayers even before we have prayed. That brings us into a relationship with Him. God reveals himself and we relate to him. We are not to twist God's arm like a nagging child who goes on until he gets what he wants. Matthew 6:7. God wants us to trust him, to acknowledge that he is Lord. Reading his Word provides our nourishment, we feed on his Word. We are praying in the Spirit to the Father in the name of Jesus. It is a spiritual activity and we need the expectancy. Prayers flow from the word of God.
Note: Just as we cannot live without breathing, we cannot live without prayers. Without this live-giving force, we would shrivel and die spiritually.
(1) Justin D. Long emphasized the startling fact that more people have died for their faith in the Twentieth Century than in all of the previous centuries combined. “During this century, we have documented cases in excess of 26 million martyrs. From AD 33 to 1900, we have documented 14 million martyrs.”