The sun admired itself on the edge of the falling blade and bounced off into multitudinous reflections of euphoric rays. Slow motion like, the honed edge glimmered and glittered as it fell. The flashes of light that glanced off it danced in the wind, did a macabre pirouette that mesmerized the eyes. Then with the transition of a striking adder, the razor sharp blade landed on the exposed neck of the accused. It bit through muscle, bones, gristle, nerves and spine, and then finally hit the executioner’s stone with a loud clonk. The sword decapitated the man’s head leaving jets of blood spurting from weeping arteries. The head bounced and rolled, hair picking up sand and finally stopped by the feet of his friend. The man numb with horror, stared at the remains of his companion, face beatific and peaceful even in death. Petrified, shock and terror became leaden manacles on his feet. They became much heavier than the metallic serpentine ones that wrapped around his limbs.
Surrounded by a quartet of guards, he was shoved and pushed roughly along. A live chicken trussed up with chains, the prisoner was then bundled off roughly into a dungeon. Movements impeded, chains chaffing wrists and ankles, he collapsed in a heap onto the floor. Tears of unbelief running like wild pools, he wondered where The Elyon was in all this. He could still not believe what he had seen. If his friend was dead, it means there was no splinter of hope left for him. The end was near. It had come faster than he had anticipated but at least he would go to be with the Lord.
The cell was dank, dark, odorous and claustrophobia inducing. The hard cold floor, the distressed thunder of hunger that rumbled in his tummy, the lice that crawled around in voracious frenzy did not matter anymore. Curled up like a fetus in colicky agony, chest heaving with emotional exhaustion he fell into a deep sleep. Weary snores soon showed that he was dead to the world. Having given up hope, there was nothing more to live for except to die, hence his almost comatose state.
Heaven and earth had reached an impasse. The Christians wanted God to move, while He was waiting for his people to act. However, the church had gone about their business in a nonchalant attitude. Surely God will save the greatest apostles who were part of His inner caucus. The Adonai holds sway over the world, so how could anything bad happen to Peter and James. Herod will not be able to do diddly squat. So, imagine the shock that engulfed the church when James was beheaded.
Somewhere in town, gasps and unbelieving exclamations emanated in a fenced house. Harsh acrid fumes of fear filled rooms and invaded nostrils. It was not true, James could not be dead. Jesus’ right hand man could not have fallen in such a gruesome way. What was going on???? If the leaders of the early church were squashed like bugs under Herod’s golden sandals then what hope was there for the fledgling body of Christ? The rage of hell had broken loose, tidal waves of destruction intent on drowning the apostolic movement.
In the ensuing confusion, not knowing what else to do, someone said, “Let us pray!” …And pray they did! They prayed earnestly, passionately, relentlessly! People took up different positions. Some laid down, faces kissing the cold floor, others held on to pillars, some sat in contemplative quietude, others walked back and forth, some shook their heads until they nearly dropped off, but you could not deny the urgency, the passion. Desperate times, desperate measures. Sweat gushed; prayers fell like rain, poured like mountainous torrents. Tongues rang out both in the spirit and in the understanding. Groans filled the air as people laboured in the delivery room of the Spirit. The Christians became explosive experts concocting canisters of petition bombs and lobbing them into God’s inner courts.
Their prayers were a divine S.O.S, cloudy incense that smacked heaven’s nostrils. They clamoured for assistance, clanged heaven’s bells until God could not sit still anymore. The activity of on earth moved heaven into action. A messenger of help was released.
In the stygian darkness of the cell, light that was not visible to all erupted. The illumination engaged the darkness, fought the powers of night. In the battles of ancient forces, the emergence of light usually swings victory in the direction of good.
Peter had given up hope so much that the angel had to strike him to wakefulness. Without keys, the chains on the condemned man fell off on their own accord. Elite guards became frozen statues, blind as bats and deaf as stones.
The apostle dressed up and the angel led him out safely. The gates that stood before them also gave way and when they got to familiar grounds, the divine messenger left him. The former fisherman suddenly realized he had encountered supernatural intervention. All the while, he had thought he was dreaming.
He got to the house where the prayers were going on, the maid saw him at the gate and went to interrupt the prayer meeting. She was so giddy she ran off without even opening the gate for the man.
It was such amazing news the girl delivered that the people praying did not believe. They felt the girl had lost her mind. It was not that they did not believe but God had moved more swiftly than they had imagined, He had done more abundantly than they envisaged. They were probably expecting that Peter would continue languishing in the cell but Herod would spare his head (after James’s demise, that would have been good enough, they reckoned). However, the apostle kept knocking until they opened it and saw him. They were beside themselves with astonishment.
Peter gave his testimony while everyone listened with rapt attention. The young man, John Mark, whose mother owned the house made some profound observations that would stay with him all his life as he listened.
- Heaven’s intervention comes on the wings of prayers
- Prayer makes light shine in darkness
- Prayer brings hope into hopeless situations
- Prayer makes chains fall off, makes gates open up
- Prayer brings freedom
- Prayer scuttles the devices of the enemy and immobilizes him
- Prayer makes angels work on our behalf
- God does much more than our expectations when we pray
- While we pray sometimes, our answers comes knocking but we are too wrapped up in the exercise, we keep the results outside, waiting, knocking.
- Prayer should come with sensitivity of the spirit, sometimes it is a maid that bears the good news concerning the answers to our petitions. We should be sensitive to know when the results of our prayers stare us in the face.
- The intervention of prayer is mostly for unfamiliar territory, when Peter got to terrain he was familiar with the angel left him.
- Prayer usually proves that they that are with us are more than they that be against us.
THIS STORY IS IN ACTS 12
THE EFFECTUAL FERVENT PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN AVAILS MUCH………
Images from Google
©2015 Ekpo Ezechinyere