So Peter was kept in prison. But the church prayed earnestly to God on his behalf. … Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there, and a light shone in the cell. The angel hit Peter on the side and woke him up. “Get up quickly!” he said. The chains fell off his hands. [Acts 12:5,7 (NTE)]

black-crowned night heronIn the early church, it was common for believers to gather together for prayer and, when Peter was imprisoned, they gathered to pray for his release at the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. For a people who believed in prayer, it’s ironic that Peter thought the angel that freed him to be a mere vision until he found himself free on the city streets and that the church was astonished when he showed up at Mary’s house! Amazing things can happen when the church prays for its leaders. Prayers broke Peter’s chains, imagine what they can do for our pastors!

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), known as the “Prince of Preachers,” is said to have had a voice so strong that he could be heard (without amplification) in a crowd of 23,000. His church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle was the largest of his day. Even though it seated 5,000, his powerful preaching drew such crowds that he would ask some of his members to attend other churches to make room for newcomers the next week. In his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to over ten million people and his collected work fills at least 49 volumes. Apparently unstoppable, he also founded 66 parachurch ministries, including two orphanages, seventeen homes for widows, and a free seminary. From where did Spurgeon get the power to accomplish so much for the Lord?

The story is told that one day the legendary preacher was giving some people a tour of the Tabernacle before service began. After asking if they’d be interested in seeing the huge church’s “power plant,” he took them into the basement and led them into a room. While Spurgeon seemed the unstoppable “Energizer Bunny” of preachers, his power didn’t come from batteries or the furnace room. Spurgeon’s power came from prayers—the prayers said by the hundreds of people who gathered in that room before church every Sunday and fervently prayed for their pastor while asking God to bless his preaching!

Behind every healthy church is a commitment to prayer and, behind every good pastor is a commitment to pray for him. Will we be the “power plant” needed by our pastors today?

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. [Colossians 4:3-4 (ESV)]

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