So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
King Herod begins to persecute the believers - He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. Then he arrests Peter.
The church was praying for Peter, and no doubt had prayed for James too. Peter is miraculously delivered from Herod’s clutches, but James wasn’t.
We see prayer is not a kind of magic by which we induce God to give us whatever we want. Our prayers express our desires, what we think best. But always with the understanding that we trust God to answer in the way that He knows is in our best interest!
We don’t understand why God saved Peter and allowed James to die. We can only guess about these things. But we do believe that in both cases God did what was best.
Maybe James goes to heaven sooner and Peter remains to teach and write two books of the New Testament. God’s perspective is above and beyond us. For this reason - and because of His love for us – we simply trust Him.
Sometimes it is clear why our prayers are answered or not. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of His betrayal. He asked God to remove the coming suffering. God did not. And we know why!
But Jesus also prayed – Not my will, but yours be done. He endured the cross of suffering in spite of His prayer to avoid it if possible. He had faith that His unanswered prayer was God’s way to something better for Him! And something better for everyone in the world!
Yet our prayers are not fatalistic exercises. They are powerful and mean something. Not only are they expressions of our desires, but God is moved by them. And we believe He always gives us what we ask when it is in our best interests.
But…what is in our best interest is better left to God.