Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Praying with Muscle

Will you pray for me? WAIT! Before you answer, let me share with you a description of how I would like you to pray for me.

Let me take you back to Acts 12. As the chapter opens, we learn that Herod Agrippa (the grandson of Herod the Great who had all of the babies slaughtered shortly after the birth of Christ) has arrested and murdered James, the brother of John. Both of these brothers had been disciples of Jesus. James was the first Apostle to be martyred and his would be the only martyrdom of an Apostle recorded in Scripture (though many of the others would face a similar fate).

The result of this persecution against the church is that the Jewish people liked it. Herod, like most politicians even today, was looking at his popularity among his subjects and thought, "If they like me for murdering James, they'll love me for taking out Peter!" So he had Peter arrested as well and put him in prison with a date with the executioner waiting for right after the Passover Holiday. According to verse five, while Peter was being kept in prison under a more than usual quantity of Roman Guards (after all, he had miraculously escaped from prison before), the church had met in a home in order to combat this heinous intent of Herod Agrippa the only way they knew how - PRAYER!

But they did not just "pray"! The Bible says that they prayed "fervently"! This is a medical term (which shouldn't surprise us because the author of Acts was a medical doctor by the name of Luke). The word means to stretch one's muscle to its limit! Have you ever stretched, pulled or strained a muscle? Chances are good that you were engaged in some type of intense physical activity when you did. You see, the church, knowing that Peter was about to be executed, didn't just pray for him, they "stretched their spiritual muscles to their limit" praying for him. They didn't just pray, they prayed "fervently"!

This is the same word used to describe how Jesus prayed when He was in the garden the night before His death. Luke 22:44 tells us that, "being in agony, He was praying 'very fervently.'" He wasn't just praying. He wasn't just praying fervently. He was praying "very fervently." So fervent were His prayers that His sweat became like drops of blood according to the same verse.

So when was the last time you prayed for someone "fervently?" Imagine what would happen if when we prayed for each other we did so "fervently," stretching our spiritual muscles to the limit! In fact, imagine what would happen if we also "agonized" in prayer for each other! I'll talk about that in my blog posting tomorrow

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