While today’s passage continues to recount the growth of the early Church, it also reminds us that that growth was not without great cost. We read of the persecution of those who belonged to the church. Afterwards, James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee, is killed by the sword. Apparently, this escalation of persecution and violence so pleased the Jews and Herod that Peter is also seized to be put to death.
It is the night before his execution and Peter is surrounded by guards, bound in chains and secured in prison. There is no reason not to believe he would be put to death in the morning. The killing of James, which was apparently done in private, emboldens Herod to make Peter’s execution public.
"…but the church was earnestly praying to God for him."
Due to this unceasing prayer, we see the miraculous delivery of Peter from the most effective means available at that time of securing man’s plans. Not only did God achieve the impossible but He was also gracious to the church in the almost comical manner He revealed the answer to their prayer. After Peter describes his escape and before he heads on his way, he instructs them to "go and tell others…."
It’s a simple instruction and probably a needless one at that for the sheer magnitude of the miracle would have dictated telling everyone they met about it. Perhaps, however, it is there for our benefit as a reminder to let others know when we encounter answered prayer. Surely, the knowledge of Peter’s escape in answer to prayer emboldened the early Church. Likewise, relaying the circumstances of our answered prayers will embolden the faith of our fellow Christians. Peter is, in effect, saying, "Not only is prayer powerful, but so is telling others about it."
So, what was your last answered prayer? And who have you told about it?