In the Book of Acts, chapter 12, Herod the king executed James, the brother of John, and “when he saw that it pleased the Jews,” Herod arrested Peter, as well, putting him in prison with the intention of executing him. Acts 12:5 records, “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.
The night before he was “to be brought forward,” Scripture records that while in chains and being well-guarded, “Peter was sleeping between two soldiers.” (Acts 12:6) At that point, Peter, himself, wasn’t even praying. But God was still hearing the prayers of the church.
Acts 12:7-10 states, “…an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, ‘Gird yourself and put on your sandals.’ And he did so. And he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.”Scripture says that Peter “came to himself,” fully realizing that he was in the midst of reality, not a vision, and he went immediately to the house of Mary, where the faithful were praying. A servant-girl named Rhoda heard him knocking, and he must have spoken because she recognized his voice. Running back to the others, she told them that Peter was at their gate. In verse 15, the response was, “You are out of your mind.”
God had to be laughing. Not only did Peter not rouse to a bright angelic light, but he required physical jarring to be awakened….not only could Peter not distinguish if his escape was actual or a vision, but when he arrived at his destination, the very people (presumably) praying for his imminent release did not believe it had happened. Yet none of those elements kept God from moving, completing the task He had started, from answering the prayers of those who sought Him.
This testimony should bring us great encouragement. When we are in the middle of difficult circumstances, our process of deliverance is sometimes difficult to discern. Yet we have been given the assurance that “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much,” (James 5:16) and that “the Spirit also helps our weakness… the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.” (Rom. 8:26)