The new church, which had been enjoying times of peace, began to endure more persecution. Herod began by having James, brother of John, killed and as this pleased the Jews he had Peter arrested planning to have him also executed at the end of the Passover festival. As Peter had ‘escaped’ from prison before (Acts 5) Herod had strong measures put in place. Where a prisoner would normally have been shackled to only one guard, Herod had sixteen guards inside the jail and outside, and Peter chained to two guards on either side! Herod wasn’t taking any chances, but he underestimated God’s power. During the night, while Peter sleeps peacefully in the knowledge that God is in control, whether he is to die the next day or not, an angel wakes him, the chains fall off and doors open, including the iron city gate, for Peter to walk free. And it’s not until he’s free that even Peter realises what has just happened! After his arrest many of the local Christians had gathered at Mary’s house to pray. Peter realises that they would be there and goes to let them know that their prayers have been answered.
The Bible says they had been praying “earnestly”, “constantly” and even “most strenuously” and yet when Peter arrives at the door (and the girl at the door is so excited to hear Peter’s voice that she leaves him outside!) they don’t believe that their prayers have really been answered; sometimes our faith levels are not all that high! And yet God is in the business of answering prayer, sometimes in spite of us and almost always in unexpected ways.
As Jesus said we only need “faith as small as a mustard seed” (Matt 17 v 20) and He will do the rest!