About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Comment: We have seen a lot of things happening to the infant church. There has been significant growth, severe persecution from the Jewish religious hierarchy, and most recently eruption beyond the bounds of Judaism into the Gentile world. Today we see persecution moving from the religious into the political world. There are a number of James and Johns in the early church – this James was not the half brother of Jesus (who wrote the epistle of James) but John the Apostle’s brother. He had also been an apostle. Herod was a king just holding onto power and he murdered James to please those who were supposed to be his subjects, the Jews. He captures Peter and wanting to make a spectacle of him after the important Jewish Passover Feast (our Easter period) and puts him under 24 hour, carefully watched, round the clock, imprisonment. There was no alternative option for effective interference by the early church except if God intervened. So they prayed!
Prayer: Teach me to pray Lord, not only when I’m in a hard place!