Friday, October 20
Scripture: Job 6-8, Acts 12
Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in jail, but the people of the church were praying earnestly to God for him.
First, something I’d never noticed before. Acts 11 ends with Barnabas and Saul bringing an offering for the poor from Antioch to Jerusalem. Acts 12 ends with Barnabas and Saul returning from Jerusalem to Antioch after delivering the offering. In between is this story of King Herod persecuting the church, killing James and arresting (with the intent to kill) Peter. Luke clearly intends us to understand that Barnabas and Saul were in town during this persecution. This makes me respect them even more—fearlessly going into the face of danger. It also makes me wonder what this was like for Saul, who had led the persecution against the church and gave his approval for Stephen’s murder earlier. I had never noticed this detail before.
Second, my takeaway today is that the people of the church were praying earnestly for Peter. This verse encouraged me to take some time to pray earnestly for people I love who are facing hardship.
The word “earnestly” translates the Greek word ektenos which literally means “to stretch out” (ek = out, plus tenos = to stretch). We get the English words tense, tension, extend and intense from the Greek word tenos. Ektenos meant “earnestly, fervently, constantly.” It is used of prayer here in Acts 12, and of Jesus praying in the Garden in Luke 22:44, where it says Jesus was in anguish and prayed “more fervently” until his sweat was like drops of blood. It’s possible that Jesus was so intense in prayer that tiny capillaries burst and blood mixed with His sweat. The word is also used of loving deeply or intensely in 1 Peter 1:22 and 4:8.
Praying earnestly, fervently, intensely—the idea is of not relaxing in your effort. One dictionary says the word pertains to “an unceasing activity, normally involving a degree of intensity and/or perseverance.” They were praying constantly, persevering and praying with intensity.
This is X Prayer!
All of this challenged me. Behind the intensity, behind the extreme prayer was deep care and concern. They loved Peter. They knew this was life or death. So they stretched out in prayer—they were intense and constant in prayer because they loved Peter.
Who am I praying for that way? I thought of several…and prayed…intensely.
By the way…the Lord answered that fervent prayer and delivered Peter!
Prayer: Lord, thanks for the reminder and the call to intense prayer. Help me be a better pray-er!