Have you ever heard of Rhoda? She’s a fun girl. But, for the first part of our story, she’s…well, she’s not really in it.
So, things were rough for the new church. And by rough, I mean putting believers to death kind of rough. Herod Agrippa (grandson of Herod the Great, of baby Jesus’ days) was ruling and persecuting the church. James the brother of John was put to death. Herod Agrippa also arrested many including Peter, who was thrown into prison. Yes, it was rough times.
While Peter was in prison, “the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (Acts 12:5) The King James Version says, “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” I kind of love KJV language sometimes. “Prayer was made without ceasing” just sounds more…powerful and serious. They got serious and prayed. “Most strenuously” The Message Bible says. Whichever version you read, the point is that they knew the only thing they could to do help Peter was to pray on his behalf.
In fact, there was a gathering a prayer meeting going on at Mary’s, the mother of John Mark, house. As Peter sat shackled in the depths of prison, a group of friends met at Mary’s house to pray for his safety. It wasn’t a book club meeting, it wasn’t a small group, it wasn’t even Bible study. It was a gathering with the sole purpose of praying. Pleading with the Lord for Peter’s life, standing in the gap, taking it upon themselves to ask for his safety, his deliverance, as well as maybe their safety and the church’s future. Peter was an important member of the early church, a great preacher and a high profile figure. The church still needed Peter’s boldness and his testimony. So they met with the sole purpose to pray.
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Mt 18:19,20) There is power in prayer when believers meet to pray together.
It’s kind of like going to a sporting event with other like minded fans cheering for your team — there’s a certain energy that propels more enthusiasm and excitement. When I go to a baseball game with my husband, I really watch the game, we talk too, but it’s much easier to focus on the action instead of when I’m home watching the game on TV. Watching the game on TV, I get distracted by folding laundry, getting up to cook dinner, helping little guys with this or that, etc. Actually being at the game though forces me to pay attention.
It’s sort of the same idea with a prayer meeting. Gathering together with other “fans” propels and encourages you to pray and press in. It’s an opportunity to meet with Jesus in a setting with fewer distractions to get you off track. And, when two or three come together, and agree in prayer, “it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” Those gathered at Mary’s house to pray may have remembered Jesus’ words as they prayed for Peter’s deliverance and safety.
So, no Rhoda yet…but soon…