Acts 12:1-19 tells of a time when the apostle Peter was imprisoned by Herod. Herod had already had James the brother of John killed by the sword and, because the people were pleased with Herod’s actions, he decided that he would kill Peter as well. Since Peter was arrested during the Passover, Herod planned to keep him in prison until after the Passover, at which time he would bring him before the people after the Passover and kill him.
In Acts 12:6, we find Peter bound with chains between two soldiers. The prison doors were guarded. It was the night before Peter was to be executed. As he sat there chained with soldiers right by his side in a guarded cell, what was Peter doing? He was sleeping! Talk about having the peace of the Lord!
While Peter slept, suddenly the prison was bathed in light. At that moment, an angel of the Lord appeared beside Peter and woke him up. He didn’t wake the sleeping apostle with a gentle nudge. He did it by striking Peter on the side. Apparently, Peter was so sound asleep that the light shining from the angel did not even cause him to stir. When Peter finally woke up, his chains fell off and he was escorted out of that prison by the angel. Peter was free (Acts 12:7-11).
This is such an amazing story, but the thing that stands out to me when I read it is what it says in Acts 12:5. While Peter was in prison awaiting execution, the rest of the believers knew that there was nothing they could do in their own power to set Peter free. So, they did the one thing that they knew could help. They prayed to God. Constantly! And the result, as we see in the verses that follow, is that Peter was freed from his prison cell.
Now, you may not know anyone who is in a physical prison cell, but it is likely that you do know someone who is in a different kind of prison. It may be the prison of addiction, or the prison of sickness. Perhaps you know someone who is imprisoned by the pain of their past. You may feel helpless because you are not able to help that person to be set free from their prison. If so, follow the example of the early church. Pray for that person to be freed. Constantly! Just as He was able to set Peter free, God has the power to set the person you pray for free from the prisons in which they may find themselves.