July 2014

Panic Prayers

“Many people had gathered and were praying.” ~ Acts 12:12 NIV


No doubt, we all have experiences where we feel a tremendous sense of urgency and anxiety to the point of panic. Then we earnestly pray for help . . . “panic prayers”!


As caring parents respond to their child, our Heavenly Father will certainly respond to our cries for HELP!


The early church had just experienced another martyrdom – one of the apostles was beheaded because of his faith in Jesus. King Herod had gone after one of the key leaders – James, the brother of John. Other Christians were arrested, including Peter. The situation was frightening, and the downward spiral of persecution was rapidly increasing.


James was dead. Was Peter next? The church began to pray together for his release. The enemy was working through King Herod in his attempt to strike at the top – to go after the leader or the leadership.


Some thoughts:

  • Satan is very aware of the potential of God’s leaders.
  • He strikes hardest where it counts most.
  • The church’s ability to move forward largely depends on its leadership.
  • As an army needs officers, so the church needs leaders and pastors.
  • As God chooses to work through people to accomplish his purpose, Satan frequently chooses to work through people to accomplish his purpose.
  • We need to remember to pray for leaders, because they are often under vicious attack.

Observation: Until the church began to pray, Satan had the upper hand. When the early church saw that James was killed and Peter was imprisoned, they became desperate and prayed. There’s a time and place for individual private prayer, and there’s a time and place for the whole church to pray.

For sure – when the mission and purpose for which the church exists is threatened, it’s time for the whole church to pray.

The church prayed for one thing: that Peter’s life would be spared and that he would be released. The need was immediate – Peter could be put to death within hours.

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (v. 12)

The church’s prayer was specific:

  • Specific praying – in the will of God – results in specific answers.
  • Specific praying – refines our petitions.
  • Specific praying – enables us to know how and when God specifically answers.
  • Specific praying – helps us understand the will of God, because God answers – with perfect timing.

When reading this story (see Acts 12:1-19) I have often asked myself, “What if the church had not decided to pray?” I believe that the consequences would have been horrible. But – in this situation, the people did pray and had amazing results.

There was a supernatural intervention (see v. 7-10).

  • Peter’s chains fell off.
  • An angel escorted Peter out of jail.
  • The guards didn’t realize that Peter walked right by them – without his chains.
  • The iron gate opened on its own.
  • Peter was free!

What does this story have to do with us? As leaders, we’ve been assigned by God to lead, to make decisions, and to use our gifts to cast vision, develop strategy, and delegate responsibility – all with a Christ-like attitude.


Some thoughts:

  • We should not be surprised when we or other leaders are attacked – that is the normal modus operandi of the enemy.
  • We should earnestly and sincerely pray for our leaders – frequently!
  • The church body needs to react promptly with earnest and consistent prayer when attacks are made against the church (or another organization), especially when those attacks are of such severity that its divine mission is hindered.
  • Prayer should be for a well-defined and specific need.
  • Prayer should be governed by the will of God. When we know the will of God, we need to pray accordingly.

This miraculous story reminds us of the fact that the Christians who were praying at Mary’s house were normal people – just like us.

When Peter showed up at the prayer meeting, the person who answered the door was surprised, and the people in the prayer meeting didn’t believe that he was actually there (in answer to their specific prayers).


“They had been gathered and were praying” (v. 12) . . . “Peter is at the door!” (v. 14) . . . "You’re out of your mind . . . It must be his angel.”(v. 15)


Today - instead of panicking, pray! Know that the enemy doesn’t like what you do and doesn’t want your life to work. He will attack every attempt to advance God’s kingdom and His divine purposes. It is logical that he would target leaders – of which you are one. However, God knew what he was doing when he assigned you to the high calling that you have.


“The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
(1 Jn. 4:4).


I am always . . .
Your Friend and Servant in Christ,

Wayde Goodall, D.Min.

Dean, College of Ministry

Northwest University


Our College of Ministry faculty speak at churches, conferences, and events. We are here to serve you in any way we can. You can contact me at: