“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5).
     The average Christian has such an empty prayer life that you wonder if they ever converse with God other than before a meal.  Prayer, I believe, is a measurement of a person’s true spiritual life.  We know that it is important, even imperative, for us to pray.  When we pray we are acknowledging the presence of God and our dependence upon Him.  This is because we realize our inability to remedy certain situations ourselves and we trust His workings.
     The Christians who were praying for Peter were definitely praying with a purpose.  They were seeking God’s intervention for their beloved brother, Peter, who was in prison, because of Herod’s hatred for the church and especially Peter, due to his place of leadership.  Many people were gathered at the home of John Mark’s mother, where they were praying.  We don’t  know exactly how long they had been there praying, but it must have been a long time.  Imagine the scene in this home as men and women alike were interceding for the safety and deliverance of Peter.  They prayed, I believe, in one accord realizing if Peter were miraculously set free and returned to them safely, that it would, of necessity, have come right from the hand of God.  Oh yes, these folk were praying with a purpose.
       I do not believe this to be an isolated incident.  There are many stories in the Bible of people praying with a purpose, perhaps, none quite as detailed or dramatic as this one, but praying with a purpose all the same.  I also believe that this should be an encouragement to us to refine our prayer life, making it acceptable to our Heavenly Father.  Much is said in the Scriptures by our Savior, concerning mechanical and empty prayers.  Jesus referred to those who prayed in such a way as hypocrites (Matthew 6:1-7).  The only purpose many people seem to have when they pray is to fulfill a religious obligation or to impress others with their “devotion” to God.
        I realize that true, heartfelt prayer with a purpose is the result of a genuine devotion to God.  We come to Him because we realize the thing we are praying about is completely beyond our ability to accomplish. We acknowledge that we need His help.  I tell you this is the type of prayer that our Father in Heaven responds to. . .according to His will.  How is your prayer life today, Christian?  Do you pray with a purpose?  Are you truly expecting an answer from God as you pray?  Will you be surprised at the speed in which God answers your prayers?
       I challenge you to have real purpose in your prayers.  It could well be that God is simply waiting to see how genuine you are when you converse with Him.  Don’t give up or grow weary when things don’t happen as you want.  God does His work in His time.  The Apostle Paul said, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
                                                                                                                  Pastor H. Preston Parker