“Prayer is something that many talk about but few really do”. Maybe that is a bit jaded and harsh but I am afraid that it is a more accurate statement than not. The situation we are reading about this week is one that threatened the early church’s existence. King Herod has discovered a way to garner the support of the Jewish leaders and also instill fear in any who would dare oppose him. Executing James was just the beginning. To eliminate Peter would potentially cripple the church. The prayer taking place in Mary’s home was “earnest” (vs. 5) meaning these followers of Jesus were praying with deep intensity, continually and diligently (Harpers Bible Dictionary). Reading this several times already this week is challenging me about my prayer life. If it were “graded” I’m afraid that too often God would see it as “prayer lite”. Those gathered in Mary’s home were very serious and invested in their prayer. They understood that their hope didn’t lie with the political establishment; their hope was in God and God alone.
I am sure that these people prayed for James, who was executed earlier but this didn’t silence them now. They understood that God was at work even when it appeared that evil was winning. They would soon see Herod’s arrogant and brutal reign end with a dramatic and definitive object lesson of the fallacy of opposing God and His plans (vs. 19-29).
Prayer is a privilege and responsibility that God has given us. When we pray earnestly we will see God work in, through and around us in ways that would not happen otherwise. It would be a shame and waste to not be devoted to serious prayer individually and with each other.