Lutz Campus

18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd.
Lutz, FL 33548

Idlewild at The Springs

8209 N 19th St
Tampa, FL 33604

Iglesia Bautista Idlewild

Main Campus, Student Building, Hall 2
 

Stretched in Prayer

Stretched in Prayer

 

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly [fervently]  praying to God for him….Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.” (Acts 12:5, 7)

As King Herod sought political favor, “He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.” (Acts 12:2) How painful and heart-breaking it must have been for the young church in Jerusalem to learn of his death. If Jesus had an inner circle, James was included in it as one of three disciples into whom Jesus intensified the pouring of His life in training, fellowship and prayer. He was the first of the 12 disciples martyred for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and his brother John would be the last one to preach the same Gospel. The church was on high alert as Peter was also chained in prison, heavily guarded, and facing imminent death at the hands of Herod.

Verse 5 says, “…but the church was earnestly [fervently] praying to God for him.” In the face of pain, fear, distress and even death, the church prayed. How did they pray? The word “earnestly” or “fervently” is from a medical word that has to do with stretching muscles to their limits. This isn’t just any prayer. This is heart-felt, burdened, agonizing, desperate, stretching prayer. As Jesus prayed in agony in the garden the night before the cross, and his sweat was like drops of blood, he prayed with this fervency. It is the same word. He gave everything in prayer. He was stretched to the limit in prayer.

Runners and other athletes often use the “hurdler’s stretch” to prepare for training and competition. While sitting on the ground, one leg is extended forward and the other is folded back at the knee and under or beside the athlete. Stretching of muscles begins in this position and then increases as athletes bend forward toward the extended leg and then lay back on the ground. Flexibility varies between athletes, and they can feel discomfort. Some can bend or lay further than others, but all can benefit from this stretching.

The church was so moved by the Holy Spirit’s presence, their circumstances, their faith in God, and their love for Peter, that they prayed to the limit in prayer according to what each was able to do. The church prayed like Jesus. They prayed by the power of the Holy Spirit. They were stretched in prayer. The church was astonished as Peter interrupted their prayer by knocking on the door of their meeting place having been delivered by and angel.

What prayer are you desperate to pray to God? Are you willing to be stretched in prayer and to cry out to Him in faith? How does a person do this? Bring your pain, burden, or request to God by speaking to Him. Don’t hold back. Pour it all out to Him. Have a Bible open if possible so you will recognize God’s greatness,  character and strength. He will teach you about Himself. Thank Him and praise Him as you pray. In time you will be astonished by God’s response even as you grow and are stretched in the process.

In September, various groups and leaders are calling the church around the world to pray and repent before God as never before. May God richly bless you as you pray with fervency.

Greg Murphy – Minister, Family Care