Let’s start with a benediction – why always leave the blessing till the end of events?
‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen’ (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Here’s a wonderful example of that superabundance of God from the experience of the early church.
King Herod had executed the apostle James, John’s brother. Realising that this made him popular with the non-Christian Jews in Jerusalem, ‘he proceeded to arrest Peter also.’ This apostle was next for martyrdom, ‘but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.’ The whole story takes up most of chapter 12 of the book of Acts.
How often have we heard some preacher say, ‘They were crying to God for his release, but when he turned up at the door they thought it must be his ghost, because he was surely already in glory with the Lord.’ But where in the text does it say they were praying for his escape? Nowhere does it tell us that!
Hey, come on now! Were they really as daft as that?
Surely, it is much more likely that, recalling how he had once panicked and denied ever having met Jesus of Nazareth, they were praying fervently, ‘Please, Lord, if he must be executed, let him exit with all his lights blazing. Don’t let him deny you again.’ And if that was their prayer, no wonder they were shocked to find him knocking on the door of their gathering. And what celebration would result when they realised that God had answered far more abundantly than all they had asked or thought to ask.
So, let’s not get all analytical about whether we are praying properly. It is reassuring to know that we just need to be real. The text of our story here is full of basic instruction on how to pray effectively. Like them, let us also pray:
 passionately: ‘earnest’
 specifically: ‘prayer for him’
 directionally: ‘to God’
 corporately: ‘by the church’ (Acts 12:5)
 honestly: ‘You are out of your mind,’ Rhoda, ‘it’s his [guardian] angel interrupting our session’ (verse 15).
A prayerless day will be an unblessed day. But, let’s go for gold … and watch God do platinum!