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.
This is a dangerous time for the church. The last time Rome aligned itself with the Jewish religious leaders against the church it ended with Jesus' crucifixion. That was 11 years ago and around this same time of year. Once again the great superpower is pandering to the desires of its political base in Jerusalem. Herod Agrippa I has already beheaded James. Now Peter sits in prison awaiting a certain execution. It was against Jewish law for anyone to be tried or executed during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. If it wasn't for that, Peter would almost certainly already be dead. And once Herod has dispensed with Peter, what is to stop him from killing off the rest of the apostles too? What can the little community of believers do against the armed might of Rome?
The church finds itself facing a big problem. What will they do? Where will they turn?
First, let's look at what the church didn't do. They didn’t attack Herod. They didn't raise up arms to try to overthrow Rome. They didn’t start a petition or go to Herod and beg. They didn’t take up a collection to start a Peter Defense Fund or to try to bribe Herod with. As far as we know the church took only one action...
The church prayed.
They prayed! They realized that only God could save. and they turned to Him, and Him alone, for help. This passage pits the power of the world against the power of God. Rome vs. the church, the sword vs. prayer. In verses 6-11 we find out that prayer prevailed and the power of God carried the day as an angel rescued Peter from prison.
Make no mistake, the same war that was being fought in this passage is being fought in your life day-by-day. You aren’t fighting against Rome or the sword. You are fighting against someone else. The Bible tells us that you have a supernatural enemy, an accuser, a deceiver, named the Devil. According to Peter, this enemy is out to devour you (I Peter 5:8). He prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He is watching and waiting for you to slip up, to stumble, so he can attack. That means that as long as we live in this world, we will be under attack.
If you aren’t facing some type of crisis today, then you will be tomorrow or next week or next month. If we call ourselves Christians then we must be certain that we know how to respond to these attacks. Our first response must always be to go to God in prayer. We must be firm in our conviction that God alone controls our fate. He alone can save us. So let me ask you, are you praying? Are you lifting up your situation to the Lord and asking for His help? If not...you really should be.