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Prayer: The Partnership of Prayer (Text: Acts 12:1-5, 7, 12-17, NKJV)

By Stephen F. Olford
The most dramatic New Testament story concerning partnership and prayer is recorded for us in the 12th chapter of Acts. Here King Herod, representing the subtle, fearful, and overwhelming power of the devil, is pictured in opposition to a church or a fellowship at prayer. This is to remind us that whenever Satan comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19).

The enemy's single purpose in every age is to silence the voice of the gospel, but God's mighty answer is always the working power of prayer. As we read and study this account, let us learn the principles that determine victory over every attempt of Satan to defeat the redemptive purposes of God.

Notice three important features about this prayer meeting:

The People at Prayer

"[Peter] ... came to the house of Mary ... where many were gathered together praying" (Acts 12:12).

As we have seen already, Satan had done his best to incarcerate Peter the evangelist and to silence the message of life in the city of Jerusalem. God's response was to draw together a simple group of men and women to pray. Three classes of people were present at that prayer meeting:

There was the Mary Class. It was at "... the house of Mary the mother of John ... where many were gathered together praying" (12:12). Mary represents the influential people, for it appears she was a woman of comparative wealth and influence. She had a roomy house which acted as a meeting place for members of the church in Jerusalem.

Thank God for the Marys of church history, and the Marys of today, who make their homes available for Bible study, prayer, and Christian fellowship. From reading the New Testament, it is evident that the home held a place of importance in the growth of the Christian church.

The gathering of God's people still takes place in private homes in countries where there is an absence of religious liberty; people simply are not allowed to rent or utilize a public building for religious purposes.

But look again: there was the Rhoda Class. "... as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer" (Acts 12:13). Rhoda, whose name means "rose," represents the insignificant people. Without question, she was a familiar servant who answered the door. What a fragrance her name and life have given the Christian church throughout the centuries! From this we learn that while God certainly uses influential people, He never despises insignificant people. The prayers of Rhoda were just as effective and acceptable as those of Mary.

Observe once again that there was the Many Class. "... The "many" represents the inconspicuous people. These are the unnamed common people who hear Jesus gladly, respond to His message, and become the members of His Body. Since the beginning of the church, the majority of its members have been comprised of the Many Class, and this is how it will be to the end of time, when Christ returns to receive His own.

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