Acts 12:5 - So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
So here’s the situation. Persecution for the early Christians was again on the rise. Herod had started throwing them in jail and sometimes even putting them to death. James, John’s brother, had just lost his life to the sword, and now Peter had been thrown into prison.
It was night and the next day he would be brought before Herod for trial and very likely be put to death. All the church could do was pray. I think this must have been one of those times like Paul talks about when he says, “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). I say this because it is clear that they did not expect what happens next. At first Peter didn’t even believe it, thinking it was a vision. Then when he showed up at the house where the church was praying they didn’t believe it either. At first they thought it must be a ghost or Peter’s spirit.
There are times in our lives as well where we just don’t know what to do. Life gets hard and we are in the middle of something that we feel we can’t handle. This is the time to pray. Of course we need to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17), but this kind of praying is different. This is where you lock the doors, cut out all distractions and get down on your knees before God. In this verse it says “the church was earnestly praying.” There was intent and purpose behind their prayers. They may not have known exactly what to expect as a result of their prayer, but they were pouring out their hearts to God.
Often I think we miss this in the church today. We say a quick prayer, joining hands with other believers, but we don’t pour our heart out to God. If we truly want to see God’s vision for our lives and see the Spirit move we need to adopt this kind of prayer. Sometimes we need to just shut everything else out and earnestly pray to God.