Prepared to Accept a Lift from God
God provides input to solving our various problems but expects us to apply human effort as part of finding the solution. Furthermore, the human effort could be closely tied with and necessary to accepting and utilizing God’s input. Because the strategy and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to actively seek solutions at the human level in order to place ourselves in position to receive his intervention. That is, we work diligently because we have faith that he will intervene and we want to be ready to accept and utilize his intervention.
Peter’s miraculous escape from Herod’s prison [Acts 12] helps illustrate this aspect of our relationship with God. King Herod started a new wave of persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. After he killed James, John’s brother, and noticed Jews appeared pleased with the killing, he arrested Peter, intending to kill him also. To avoid having to kill someone during the Feast of Unleavened bread, he held Peter in prison under maximum security, intending to try him publicly and kill him after the festival. Members of the church prayed ceaselessly for Peter. They gathered at the house of Mary, the mother of John, also called Mark, and prayed earnestly day and night for Peter. An angel appeared to Peter in prison on the night before his scheduled public trial. The angel freed him, guided him to about one street length out from the prison, and left him. Peter first visited with the church family at Mary’s house where they were praying for him. He told them how God brought him out of the prison. Then he left and went away so Herod and his men could not find him when they looked for him in the morning. We learn several lessons based on Peter’s experience.
Accepting and Utilizing a Lift from God
God assisted Peter’s escape from Herod by freeing him from jail and guiding him out from the prison premises. However, Peter needed to complete the escape by human effort. If he remained there, Herod’s people would have re-arrested him later.
This experience illustrates that God can provide a lift to help us through a problem. If we characterize the lift in terms of a pick-up point and drop-off point, then to accept and utilize the lift we need to get to the pick-up point on time and be ready to continue the journey beyond the drop-off point. That is, to accept and utilize God’s input to solving our problem, we have to actively seek the solution to place ourselves in position to receive his input. You work hard because you have faith [James 2:18] that God will intervene and you want to be prepared to accept and utilize his intervention.
Before continuing with his escape, Peter met with the church family at the house of Mary (mother of John Mark) and testified of God’s intervention in his miraculous escape. Testifying of God’s goodness especially publicly is a powerful tool in the life of a believer. Through his testimony, he let them know that God had answered their prayer and they should thank him for what he has done. God wants us to give testimony to appreciate him for what he has done and share the information with others so they may know more about his grace and mercy. The devil does not like this and will always try to stop you from sharing your testimonies of God’s power because of what it can achieve for the citizens and kingdom of God. When you give thanks through testimony, God adds to your encounter and makes it whole. In other words, you come into the fullness of your miracle. The scripture abounds with examples of these.
For example, after Jesus healed ten men of leprosy but only one of them came back and praised God in a loud voice [Luke 17:11–19], he asked about the other nine: “Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to the man, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” So also was the case with the woman with the issue of blood who was delivered of her infirmity of 12 years (Mark 5:22-43).
Through testimony, you are able to solicit others to thank God with and for you, let them know what he has done and can do. God can speak or touch a believer through the testimony of another, because testimonies declare God’s power and have the ability to build faith that can turn things around in a person’s life, especially if they are manifestations of answered prayer. The power of testimony! The brethren prayed, Peter was miraculously freed from prison by an angel, he testified of this before the brethren, and completed his escape from Herod.
Power of Intercession
The church family realized Peter’s situation and prayed for him ceaselessly. God granted their prayer and released Peter from Herod’s prison and from the threat of execution. Intercession is one of the opportunities we have to show God’s love to others. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:15–16) and the apostle Paul advised brethren to look out for the interest of not just themselves but others (Phillipians 2:3–4).
Similarly, intercession by Moses saved Israelites from sudden destruction. God intended to destroy them in the desert because they did not believe in him or his representatives among them. Moses pleaded with God on their behalf [Numbers 14:13–19] and God modified the punishment in response to his plea. Also, God saved Lot and his daughters [Genesis 19:29] because of Abraham’s intercession [Genesis 18:23–33].
God will grant a prayer made selflessly on behalf of others. As he told Solomon at the dedication of the temple, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” [2 Chronicles 7:14].