According to Luke, one of the sons of Zebedee becomes the first of Jesus’ disciples to die a martyr’s death. Apparently, the spread of Christianity threatened Agrippa I, the new king of the Jews. It’s unclear why James was targeted, but he was executed in public to send a message. When this act received praise from Jewish leaders, Agrippa I made plans to do the same thing with Peter. As news of Peter’s arrest and rumors of another execution reached the church, fear drew believers to fall to their knees to pray.
Now at that time Herod [Agrippa I] the king [of the Jews] arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to harm them. 2 And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword; Acts 12:1-2.
Based upon the passage below, the prayers lifted up to God were fervent and persistent. Following the Passover, Peter was scheduled to be executed in a similar manner as James. As this day drew near, prayers of the saints intensified. Individuals were begging and pleading with God to deal with, fix and resolve this emergency immediately. Based upon Acts 12:8-10, the Lord sent an angel to save Peter’s life, answering their prayers instantaneously.
When he had seized Peter, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him [in rotation throughout the night], planning after the Passover to bring him out before the people [for execution]. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church, Acts 12:4-5.
During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the role of resolve in prayer is mentioned, Matthew 7:7-12. Step one is obvious, ask God for any requests on your heart or that come to mind. Step two begins when prayers aren’t answered, seek God to find out why. Finally, be fervent and persistent by keep knocking on God’s door. Don’t give up on prayer; resolved to keep praying until the Lord opens a door to reveal answers for your prayers. This is the role of resolve in prayer. May your prayer life begin to resemble first century Christians.
by Jay Mankus