Praying from a place of pain

Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also….. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church”. Acts 12

Here we read that the early church believers are being persecuted. Life is being made extremely difficult for them because of their faith in Jesus and now James one of the Apostles and the brother of John has been killed. This must have been such a distressing and painful time for the church.

We know from reading the book of Acts that the early church gave themselves to prayer and worship daily. They met regularly together, lived together, worshipped together and prayed together. I believe that they would have been seeking God and praying about the things which Herod was doing and would have certainly prayed for James.

Then James is killed leaving the believers in a painful place of sorrow and mourning, perhaps some were in disappointment, confusion and hurt. Then more sorrow comes as Peter is then seized and Herod’s clear intention is to kill Peter too.

The encouragement to us from these verses is that the believers do not give up on prayer in these terrible circumstances. They continue to put their trust in God. They do not let the sorrow, pain and grief of James’ death stop them praying to God for Peter who was in the same situation as James. They faithfully keep praying. They keep trusting and believing.

Have you encountered times when you are in pain, life is hard and bad things are happening to you and those you love. It can seem as though God isn’t listening or speaking and hasn’t answered our prayers. We don’t understand why. We can let the disappointment of that start to influence our understanding of God and our faith in Him. Doubts can creep in and before we know it our hearts become hardened by unbelief and we start to question God’s character, His faithfulness, His goodness and even His love for us.

Perhaps if I was in the early church at that time, my disappointment and doubts would have got in the way of praying for Peter. I might have said..what’s the point praying for Peter. James has been killed. Peter will too. Peter is in prison and guarded by so many soldiers. It’s impossible. But, if the early church had not faithfully prayed then they would not have seen God’s answer to prayer and Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison by the Angel sent from God.

These verses will and should challenge us. Did God love Peter more than James and that was why God answered and delivered Peter but not James. Did the Church pray with more faith for Peter. I would say certainly not. The bible teaches us that God is not partial. God has no favourites. God loves His children. God is sovereign and knows our end from our beginning. God allowed His own son to suffer and die for the sake of humanity so that whoever believed on Jesus would not die in sin but have redemption and eternal life. God knows the eternal plan that He has for each one of us. We see with a limited perspective and our “here and now” experiences can hinder and warp our view of God as revealed in His Word. We don’t have all the answers but God does.

The encouragement from our preacher at church today was to look up. Look up to God and heaven and not our circumstances and earthly distractions. I am encouraged by Peter as we read on further in this story from Acts. When the Angel comes to rescue Peter it says that Peter was sleeping between the guards in his chains. The Angel had to wake him up.

This was the night before Herod was going to kill him. The threat was very real as James had just been killed. James and Peter had known each other as fishermen before they became disciples and followers of Jesus. James was one of the disciples who was close to Jesus with Peter and his brother John. James was with Peter and John when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain and when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. If James has been killed then Peter must have realised that he was very much in danger too of being killed.

How could Peter sleep in such circumstances. I believe Peter had the peace of God in his heart that passes all understanding and he was looking up to heaven. He had an eternal perspective. He trusted that God’s Will would be done and God’s Kingdom established. He knew his end destination. The place that Jesus had already told him was prepared for him. A place with Jesus in Gods Kingdom forever.

Be blessed today my dear friends and encouraged. Do not give up. Keep looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Keep the faith. Keep a soft heart towards God. Trust in the goodness, abounding love and faithfulness of God. God sees you.

10 thoughts on “Praying from a place of pain

  1. Yes, God is love! “The encouragement from our preacher at church today was to look up. Look up to God and heaven and not our circumstances and earthly distractions.” A great message to receive today, thank you for sharing it with the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this reminder to keep our eyes looking up to Heaven. Your post reminded of the scripture:
    I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
    From where shall my help come?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    Who made heaven and earth.
    — Psalm 121:1-2

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your reflection, your piece today is prayer in itself – so soothing, so reassuring and so calming despite all the troubles many of us are going through. May we keep looking up to God, not to our many distractions. Thank you so much, Nicola! God bless you always.

    Liked by 1 person

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