Prayer Is The Gate

Begin the new year with God

One of the incredible things about our God is that we can come before him in prayer.


One of the incredible things about our God is that we can come before him in prayer. He doesn’t just give us permission to talk to him but actually invites us into a deep relationship where we can share our needs. In today’s devotional, we’re going to look at how we can pray intentionally and specifically with the confident expectation that God will hear us and respond.


“Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”

Acts 12:5 ESV


Thomas Brooks was a great Puritan author and preacher who lived in the sixteenth century. In his book Smooth Stones Taken from Ancient Brooks, he observed that “the best and sweetest flowers of paradise God gives to his people when they are upon their knees. Prayer is the gate of heaven.”

We are focusing this month on four necessary ingredients in a great spiritual awakening: 2 Chronicles 7:14 says that “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (emphasis added).

Last week’s topic was humility; this week we will focus on prayer.

If prayer is truly “the gate of heaven,” that gate has “keys” that unlock it. And over the course of this week, we’ll look at seven biblical factors that enable us to pray effectively and powerfully.

We’ll study one each day, beginning with the first: pray specifically.

Let’s look at the background story to our verse for today: Herod the Great’s grandson, Herod Agrippa I, was the ruler of that day. And, in an effort to gain favor with the religious authorities, he “laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church” (Acts 12:1). For example, verse 2 explains that “he killed James the brother of John with the sword.” Then, not long after, he arrested Peter with the intent to have him executed after the Passover (v. 4).

But the church responded in a way that we can learn from today. Acts 12:5 tells us that “Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”

Note that “earnest,” passionate prayer was offered. And it wasn’t just offered by an individual, but “by the church,” the entire body of Christ in collective intercession. But don’t miss this fact: they prayed “for him” specifically. They prayed for Peter and his needs, asking God to deliver him from his imprisonment and pending execution.

And God answered their prayer in a dramatic way, sending an angel to free the Apostle from prison. Peter then immediately went to the house where the Christians “were gathered together and were praying” (v. 12). When he knocked on the door, “a servant girl named Rhoda” was so shocked that he was there that she left him waiting outside and ran to tell the others (v .13).

I love the detail here in verse 15: “They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind.’ But she kept insisting that it was so.” Think about it: when God answered their prayer, they didn’t even believe that he had. It’s so encouraging for me to know that we don’t have to be perfect intercessors to pray to a perfect God. He hears us and answers us in ways that transcend us.

What impossible situation are you facing today? Who is your “Peter”?

Whoever it is, pray “for him” today. Tell God your need, as directly and intentionally as possible. Pray so specifically that you would know how to answer your prayer if you were God.

Avoid generic prayers like “God be with us” (he already promised us he would be with us “always” in Matthew 28:20). Tell the Lord precisely what you are asking him to do, then trust him to answer in whatever way is best.

F. B. Meyer was right when he said, “The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.”

So offer your prayers specifically to your Father today as we enter a time of guided prayer.

today’s devotional is written by Jim Denison


1. Identify a specific request you need to make to God.

“We fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty” (Ezra 8:23).

2. Bring your request directly to your Father. Tell him exactly what your need is and how you’d like him to help.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

3. If you can, write down your request in a prayer journal (or even a note on your phone), where you can record your prayers and God’s answers. Trust him to meet your needs in his perfect will and timing. Be sure to express your gratitude for his answers as they come.

“Cast your burden on the Lᴏʀᴅ, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).


Prayer Is The Gate


Interceding for others is one of the greatest ways you can serve them. When we help people in our own strength, we are limited in our understanding and capabilities. When we ask God to help them, his incomprehensible knowledge and power move in response.

If you don’t regularly keep a list of people you are praying for, would you begin today?

You can start by praying for your leaders as Paul encouraged Timothy to do in 1 Timothy 2:2. You can pray for your pastors and other ministers as we see in Hebrews 13:7. And you can pray “for all people” as Paul recommends in 1 Timothy 2:1. Lastly, Ephesians 6:18 reminds us to “keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

As you go, give the gift of your intercession today, to the glory of God.

Extended reading: Acts 12 & Studies on Prayer Volume 1 & Volume 2 by Janet Denison

As you go, give the gift of your intercession today, to the glory of God.


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