Persecution was daily fare for the early church. Stephen was stoned to death. James, the brother of John, was executed by King Herod. Imprisonment was common, the only crime being telling the good news of the Gospel.
When Peter was arrested and jailed it was probably no surprise. Still, the church was not willing to ho-hum the matter just because the practice was common. They began to pray unceasingly for Peter’s release from prison.
Meanwhile, back at the slammer, Peter was sound asleep — a good indication that he wasn’t overcome by his difficulties. The one who had been such a coward before the crucifixion now relaxed awaiting the will of God to unfold. Clearly, he had traded fear for faith.
God answered the prayer of the church. An angel unshackled the sleeping apostle from his chains and set him free. It all happened so quickly and miraculously that Peter wasn’t sure he was awake. He thought he might be seeing a vision (verse 9).
Finally, certain that this was for real, Peter hurried to where the church was at prayer — praying big — asking for Peter’s release. However, when their prayer was answered they could hardly believe it. Rhoda, who answered the door when Peter knocked, was thought mad when she reported that Peter had arrived.
These early Christians learned two important lessons. First, it pays to pray big. Second, God is greater than our faith. They asked, but didn’t really expect an answer. In spite of their frail faith, God answered.
Ask big. The answers may surprise you!