Last week, we looked at the conversion of Saul. Saul had been an enemy of the early Christians. As he was on his way to arrest Christians in Damascus, Jesus spoke to him in a vision. Saul's life was totally changed by that meeting with Jesus, and he immediately began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues. Saul (also known as Paul!) even went on to write a large part of the New Testament.
This week, we're going to look at the disciple Peter, and some of the troubles and difficulty he got into as he boldly preached about Jesus. Watch the video:
Today's Bible passage comes from Acts 12: 4-17. The Good News Translation is below, or you can use a different version if you'd like.
The night before Herod was going to bring him out to the people, Peter was sleeping between two guards. He was tied with two chains, and there were guards on duty at the prison gate. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there, and a light shone in the cell. The angel shook Peter by the shoulder, woke him up, and said, “Hurry! Get up!” At once the chains fell off Peter's hands. Then the angel said, “Tighten your belt and put on your sandals.” Peter did so, and the angel said, “Put your cloak around you and come with me.” Peter followed him out of the prison, not knowing, however, if what the angel was doing was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed by the first guard station and then the second, and came at last to the iron gate that opens into the city. The gate opened for them by itself, and they went out. They walked down a street, and suddenly the angel left Peter.
Then Peter realized what had happened to him, and said, “Now I know that it is really true! The Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod's power and from everything the Jewish people expected to happen.”
Aware of his situation, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outside door, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer it. She recognized Peter's voice and was so happy that she ran back in without opening the door, and announced that Peter was standing outside. “You are crazy!” they told her. But she insisted that it was true. So they answered, “It is his angel.”
Meanwhile Peter kept on knocking. At last they opened the door, and when they saw him, they were amazed. He motioned with his hand for them to be quiet, and he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell this to James and the rest of the believers,” he said; then he left and went somewhere else.
All the Christians were gathered in one place, praying for Peter. But sometimes when we come to pray to God, we don't really know what to pray for. Here's a "Five-Finger-Prayer" activity that might help you with this.
First, I want you to put your hands together in front of you as if you are praying. Keep your eyes open so that you can see your hands. You will notice that the closest finger to you is the thumb. Since it is the closest to you, the thumb reminds you to pray for those that are closest to you. Pray for your parents and your brothers or sisters.
The next finger is called your index finger. It is used for pointing. Let this finger remind you to pray for those that point you in the right direction. Pray for your teachers at school, your Sunday School leaders, and any other teachers or coaches you might have (even those you may not have seen in a while).
The next finger is the tallest finger. This finger reminds us to pray for our leaders. Pray for the leaders in our government, particularly at a time when they're having to make some incredibly difficult decisions. Pray for all of the scientists advising the government, and for those leading our health services at this time.
The fourth finger is the called the ring finger. Did you know that this is the weakest of all the fingers? Just ask any one who plays the piano and they will tell you that is true. Let this finger remind you to pray for those who are sick.
The next finger is the smallest finger. The Bible says, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought." Let the little finger remind you to pray for yourself.
So the next time you are talking to God, and you can't think of anything to say, let the "Five Finger Prayer" help you.
Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name.
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial.
Deliver us from evil.
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours.
Now and forever,