Stretch In Prayer
By Andrew Osakue
When we are commanded to put on the full armor of God, I believe the greatest thing Paul says to do is to “pray in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18). Only through the prayer of the righteous do we see how God moves and availeth much (Jas. 5:16).
Let’s take a look at Acts chapter 12 to see more about what only prayer can do. In this passage we read that Herod “had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also...” (vv. 2-3). After arresting him, Herod had him secured in prison in extravagant fashion. Most people were chained to just one guard, but Herod had Peter chained to two guards (v. 6). He handed him over to be guarded by “four squads of four soldiers each” (v. 4). And in addition to this is the big iron gate (v. 10).
Let’s focus on verse 5: “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” Here is the contest: You have Peter, bound in not one, but two chains, and held captive by two men. You have guards standing outside. Around the clock, soldiers are being cycled in and cycled out – four squads, sixteen in total. And then the great challenge of the iron gate, which no man had the individual power to move. Versus – this is the contest – a church that is inside of Mary’s house, joining together in prayer.
The Bible says in verse 5 the word that I believe God is speaking to us in 2021 if we’re going to really experience the power of prayer – the word “earnestly.” That word comes from the Greek word ektenōs, a medical term which means to stretch one’s muscle to the limit. Notice that the text does not say that this church was at the house gossiping about Herod, about how wicked of a ruler he was, or tweeting about Herod, saying negative things about him. No! The church didn’t have time to waste spinning her wheels, trying to stay in front of the media, talking the way the world talks, walking the way the world walks, fearing the way the world fears. The church was committed to praying “earnestly” – and “earnestly” means “to stretch”!
What if God would allow all chaos to break loose around us? What if He would allow wickedness in high places so we never waste time looking to government, for God has called us to look through government, because the government still rests on Jesus’ shoulders! What I’m telling you today, church, is yes, evil will come – that’s written about. Yes, in this world we will have trouble, but we can take heart because in Christ we can have peace for He has overcome the world! (John 16:33). He’s asking us, church, will we “stretch” for our families? Will we “stretch” for those in prison? The fact is, when the church stretched her muscle in prayer, chains fell off. The angel let Peter out of prison. What God is after now more than ever before is for chains to fall off!
We are called to make intercession for those in authority over us. We are called to pray for the lost to be saved. If we are going to ignite Jesus movements, we cannot go around the word “earnestly.” We must embrace the fact that if chaos is in our home, if chaos is in our community, God is calling us to stretch for His kingdom!
Will we stretch? Will we stretch? If we are going to see unity among all ethnicities – Jesus already prayed that we be one (John 17:21-23) – will we stretch in prayer in our relationships? If we are going to see the captives set free, will we stretch to see people’s chains fall off?
God is allowing chaos around us, not because He doesn’t love us, but because He does love us. He’s calling us to stretch more in Him in ways we never have before. Let’s stretch for Jesus!
– Excerpted and edited from a message given at the 2021 Heart-Cry for Revival Conference. Used by permission. To hear this message and others from the conference, visit heart-cryforrevival.org.
Andrew Osakue is the Senior Pastor of Vonore Baptist in Vonore, Tennessee.