The Soldiers Square Off: Acts 12:4-6
“4) When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. 5) So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. 6) On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison.” Acts 12:4-6
These verses set the backdrop for one of the most unique stories in the Bible. After successfully killing James the brother of John, Herod the king proceeded to arrest Peter, but the story was about to play out totally different.
The Christians were developing the reputation of being hard to keep in jail. Herod took no chances with Peter. He had him arrested, but delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him in the jail.
They took extraordinary precautions with Peter. These soldiers knew their lives were on the line with this mission. Security was tight.
The other prisoners undoubtedly recognized that a political prisoner was among them. The climate had changed and become very tense. The former fisherman from Galilee was being treated like a notorious criminal. The scene was almost comical. He was even being held in chains in his cell. The chains were much stronger than the ropes he formerly used to retrieve his fishing nets.
By verse 5 says; “So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” Did you see what just happened? The text amassed two armies against each other. In these verses, elite Roman soldiers are lined up against Prayer Warriors. The physical and the spiritual square off against each other. This suddenly becomes pregnant with insights.
Before getting into the rest of the story, I want to emphasize the power and importance of prayer. This text underlines the fact that prayer moves the hand and heart of God. When God steps up every power and authority on earth steps down. He always wins.
Make no mistake, we are not called to put faith in prayer. As Christians we put our faith in God! Prayer is merely our communications network. Yet verse 5 indicates that when the church got serious about prayer the scales were immediately tipped in their favor.
When James was arrested earlier in this chapter and beheaded with the sword, there was no mention of the church praying on his behalf. But when Peter was arrested and facing the same fate, suddenly the church was moved to prayer. What is it going to take in our days for churches to stop playing and start praying?
In Ephesians 6, we are called to put on the full armor of God. We are Gods army. The text ends with a call to prayer. (See Ephesians 6:18-20) Prayer is our greatest weapon. It is our communication network with God. When the church starts praying earnestly, God always responds.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global