Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
One of the people who helped lead me to Christ was a big fan of an organization called the Voice of the Martyrs. She had never served in missions, but she had a burden to pray for those Christians in foreign lands who were suffering persecution. At her behest, I joined the organization and signed up to receive their magazine. One of the first things I received was a map of the world indicating the countries where believers are most persecuted. For a time, I prayed pretty faithfully over that map. Eventually, I would move homes, and the map would be forgotten or lost. I do not know whatever came of those prayers, but my faith tells me that they must have accomplished something.
In the account of Peter’s time in prison before this escape, we do not know what his prayer life was like. What we do know is that the Church was praying on his behalf during this time. I think scripture’s description in this manner serves a crucial purpose for our learning. We can suggest, and it would not be out of line at all, that Peter himself was praying for deliverance of his imprisonment. What we are told, however, is that others were praying for that very thing, and then it happened. What he initially thought was a vision eventually would become clear to him as reality. The prayers of the faithful resulted in an angel descending from heaven in visible form to lead Peter to freedom.
Praying for others can cause us to have all kinds of questions swirling in our minds. First and foremost should be the question of whether our prayers are in line with God’s will. Sometimes it is clear that our request would result in that person’s best outcome, but other times it can be unclear. That is why it is so important to have those with us who can agree with our prayers. A body of believers prayed for Peter’s release, and the result was an answer to prayer they likely did not expect. He was not only freed but freed in a truly amazing way. Father, give us discernment as a body to know your will and call it forth faithfully, believing in the amplified power of corporate prayer.