February 3, 2016

Gathering in Prayer.

Jarryd and I went to an evening worship service that our--new--church has on the first Wednesday of every month. As it was our first time, we really didn't know what to expect. Would there be solely worship? Or testimonies? A sermon, perhaps? People falling on the floor being healed and shouting in tongues (hehe...)?

There was quite a large turn-out of people which is always nice to have! First it started with some worship, followed by a sermon/Bible study with a guest speaker, and then finished with communion. ALSO here's a fun fact for you! The typical communion "juice and crackers" came in individually pre-packaged cups (the juice and cracker are separated of course). I had no idea this was even a thing! Look it up online, it's quite something. So modern...

Anyway, the Bible study was all about Peters' (one of Jesus' disciples) miraculous escape from prison, found in the book of Acts. I had heard this story before, but for some reason I forgot all about it. This account absolutely intrigues me!

It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”

“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter.
{Acts 12:1-18}
Isn't that story amazing? How God let Peter slip past two guards completely unnoticed is just incredible and truly divine. But the main focus of the Bible study are the two verses that I underlined above. MANY people were at Mary's house and were gathered to pray for Peter.
It just goes to show that when we pray to a BIG God, BIG things can/will happen.

I wish I could write how I'm a part of an awesome group of believers who meet consistently to pray. I wish I were a part of something like that. But truthfully, I'm not. Which of course isn't horrible in God's eyes, because He tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should "pray continually", pray without ceasing. Pray anywhere and anytime! And it especially doesn't matter if you're in a group or by yourself. But there is something extraordinary when Christians get together and share their hearts and ask for prayer from one another. There's nothing like fellowship among believers.

Again, I don't have that. But now that I'm a part of this new church, there are opportunities to join some groups that are starting next week! This is something I've really been praying for and I just hope that God provides for me a group that I can flourish in, and maybe help others to flourish in as well? :)

One thing that totally made our evening, was after the service, a guy came up to us and just started chatting with us. We had no idea who he was and he had no idea who we were. He just saw two unfamiliar faces and made initiative to welcome us. We ended up talking with him for probably over half an hour, and eventually other church members/his friends approached and he introduced us to them. Before we knew it we were all having great conversation with people we'd never met. These people were truly interested in who Jarryd and I were and SO excited that we were at their church with them!

Do you know how nice that is?! Have you ever visited a new church and not know a single face?
Most churches I have been to, it is YOUR job to make the first move to get involved in the church and meet new people or else you're doomed. This can be so scary and overwhelming (at least for an introverted personality like mine). It was so wonderful to not have to make the first move. It was so relieving to be approached, to be noticed and to feel welcomed. Gahh! I just can't get over how much I appreciate that. I hope that I can be that warm and welcoming of a person to everyone I meet!

1 comment:

  1. My favourite part of that story is this: "A servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it" hahaha it makes me laugh. I can just picture her being so excited to hear Peter that she completely forgets to open the door, all frazzled and excited, bustling about. Meanwhile he's still out there, in danger, knocking at the door "uh.. can someone please let me in?".