Prayer without Ceasing
Prayer without Ceasing
William Stout / General
Acting out Acts Part 15 / Prayer: Petition
Acts 12:1–4 NKJV
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.
2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
- Herod the king
- This was the third person to be called “Herod” in the bible
- First was Herod the great. He died shortly after the birth of Jesus
- His sons were Archelaus and Antipas
- Archelaus reigned in Jerusalem for a short time, but not as king
- Antipas was given the area around Galilee, and was later expanded (4 Bc to 39 AD)
- Antipas was the “Herod” who reigned during the time of Jesus and John the Baptist
- Antipas received the dynastic title “Herod” after bringing down Archelaus
- Herod Antipas was betrayed by his friend and brother in-law/Nephew, Agrippa
- Agrippa was the son of Aristobulus (son of Herod the great) making him the Grandson of Herod the great and nephew of Herod Antipas
- He was also the brother of Herodias –
- Antipas and Herodias had taken him into their home, but hostility developed
- He returned to Rome and became friends with Caligula, who would become emperor
- When Caligula become Emperor, Agrippa sent to him accusations about Antipas and had him exiled
- Agrippa then took his territory and received the title “king” from Caligula
- He acquired all of the territory of both Phillip and Antipas, nearly as much as his grandfather Herod the Great
- Only reigned from 37-44 AD
- This is the King Herod mentioned in Acts 12, who persecute the Church and killed James
- He was also the father of Agrippa II who would hear Paul’s testimony later.
- After killing James he arrested Peter and intended to kill Him also
- Was during the Passover week, and so he intended to wait until after passover
- Put him in prison with four squads of soldiers
- this is four groups of four who would regularly rotate in order to provide 24 hour guard
- this unusually high level of security was probably because he had heard what happened the last time they put Peter in prison.
Acts 12:5 NKJV
5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
- Peter was kept in prison, but . . .
- thank God for the buts in the bible
- Constant prayer was made to God for him (King James says “without ceasing”)
- Prayer matters. Do you pray?
- There is nothing wrong with having “ritual” type prayer to honor God, bless meals, commence a service, etc.
- But there is another type of prayer that must be a part of every victorious Christian’s life
- The prayer of petition – fervent prayer
- Prayer that is so important it cannot be put off
- faith that believes we are being heard
James 5:16 NKJV
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
- “Effective” prayer – prayer that is according to the Will of God
- This is not some mysterious thing that we cannot know
- The more we know God, the easier it is to pray “effective” prayers
- Don’t confuse “effective” with eloquent, or sophisticated
- “fervent” prayer. This prayer is intense, yearning,.
- Ferven – from a root (fervere) meaning to bpil
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition) Fervent
1: very hot: GLOWING
2: exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling
- Fervent prayer is not concerned about dignity, appearance, or the opinions of others.
- think about blind Bartimaeus
- This is the prayer of importunity Jesus mentions
- Think about a woman giving birth —
- Sometimes we need to approach prayer with the fervency of a woman in labor, yearning to bring forth some new thing, some change in our lives
- “Righteous”. When a righteous person offers fervent, effective prayer, it is a “powerful thing”
- It is not just idle chatter. Not just to make us feel better.
- It is a powerful, active force that is able to change the outcome of event, and reverse the course of things already in motion
- There is power in your prayer
- Righteousness does matter though.
- “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord won’t hear me”
- “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?”
- Consider the Words of Elisha to Jehoram and Jehoshaphat
2 Kings 3:14 NKJV
14 And Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor see you.
- “Surly if it were not for Jehoshaphat being here, I would not even regard you at all or notice you….
- No one should presume that God does not put difference between holy and unholy.
- The good new is, if you do not have this “righteousness”, you can obtain it today.
- Jesus Christ offers His righteousness to us
- You need only repent of your sins and believe on Jesus Christ as Lord – in your heart
- In that instant, you are the righteous person we are talking about
- your sins are as far as the east is from the west
Prayer without Ceasing
- Thank God for Christians who don’t quit
- We should not quit in our prayers, our faith, our works, our love, our hope.
- Elijah when he prayed for rain, prayed seven times
- Daniel, when he had been in captivity 70 years, prayed concerning Jeremiah’s prophecy
- Do you have a need?
- Do you have loved ones in trouble? lost? sick?
- Do you want to see revival in our City?
- Offer unto God that effective, fervent, prayer without ceasing! See what the Lord will do.
- Moravian mission example:
During its first five years of existence the Herrnhut settlement showed few signs of spiritual power. By the beginning of 1727 the community of about three hundred people was wracked by dissension and bickering. An unlikely site for revival!
Zinzendorf and others, however, covenanted to prayer and labor for revival. On May 12 revival came. Christians were aglow with new life and power, dissension vanished and unbelievers were converted.
Looking back to that day and the four glorious months that followed, Zinzendorf later recalled: “The whole place represented truly a visible habitation of God among men.”
A spirit of prayer was immediately evident in the fellowship and continued throughout that “golden summer of 1727,” as the Moravians came to designate the period. On August 27 of that year twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer.
Some others enlisted in the “hourly intercession.”
“For over a hundred years the members of the Moravian Church all shared …
Acts 12:6–12 NKJV
6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.
7 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.
8 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.”
9 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.
10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”
12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.
- When he arrived at Mary’s house, there “many were gathered together praying”
- Rhoda answered the door
- did not open for gladness, but ran top tell the others
- they didn’t believe her, but Peter was still knocking
- Finally, they opened the door and he explained all the Lord had done
- The next day, when Herod learned what had happened he had all the jail keepers put to death
- This is the last place we read of Herod Agrippa I, (though we read o his son later)
Acts 12:21–25 NKJV
21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.
22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”
23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.
- So, Herod, for all his power and pride, came to a short end
- He did not die of old age, or in comfort
- The bible says that his death was brought about by a deliberate action of an angel of the Lord
- We should not think of God has powerless to act
- It is not karma either
- If God is for you, who can be against you?
- So then, in recap
- We must pray without ceasing
- we should come to God with fervency and passion
- we should come to God effectively (Praying according to His will, not careless or whimsically)
- We should set aside the sins that so easily beset us – pray as a righteous person having been redeemed by Jesus
- We should not quit praying, in faith and believing
- And we can trust that God will be our defender – we need not fight as much as we do
- He has said that He will trouble them that trouble us, and be an adversary to our adversaries
- How can this change your life?