In Acts 12, we find a story about how powerful prayer can be. It is a story of how, when things were looking bleak, prayer turned the entire situation around. This story not only encourages us with a wonderful example of answered prayer, but also provides us with a number of principles we can apply in our own lives to help us see our prayers answered in the affirmative.
Let's look at some of these principles together.
Principle one: We need to offer our prayers to God. Acts 12:5 tells us, "Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church" (NKJV).
Did you know that not all prayer is offered to God? A number of studies in recent years have found that people who pray seem to have fewer problems in life, less stress, and lower blood pressure. It was even found in hospital situations that a person who was being prayed for seemed to have a more rapid recovery than people who had not been the recipients of prayer.
The question I have is, "Who were these people praying to?" Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. Prayer is the vehicle by which we reach God.
We don't need to be looking to prayer. We need to be looking to God through prayer. We need to offer our prayers to God.
Principle two: We need to pray with passion. The phrase, "constant prayer" could be translated, "earnest prayer or stretched outwardly."
Have you ever dropped your car keys in that little spot between the seat and the center console? They are just beyond your reach, and you strain to try and get them. This is the idea here. They reached out to God. They put everything into it.
Another way to translate this phrase is, "they prayed with agony." This was not a flippant kind of prayer. This was a storm-the-throne-of-God kind of prayer. God promises that we will find Him when we search for Him with all of our heart (see Jeremiah 29:13). That is how we need to pray.
Excerpted from "Principles for Answered Prayer" by Greg Laurie (used by permission).