Acts 12:1-5 (NLT)
1 About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. 2 He had the apostle James (John�s brother) killed with a sword. 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration. 4 Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. 5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.

In these passages we find John�s brother James has been killed with a sword because of his powerful preaching about Christ. He was one of those sons of Zebedee whom Christ told that they should drink of the cup that he was to drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that he was to be baptized with. In other words they would follow in His death. One might think God would keep one of His from perishing, but the purpose of God may have been to awake the other apostles to the critical mission before them. For we find Peter is also imprisoned and placed under guard waiting for a trial. Peter may have thought it his duty to wait in prison for his trial, but the church was praying for him.

The next portion of Acts tells us this about Peter, �The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, �Quick! Get up!� And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, �Get dressed and put on your sandals.� And he did. �Now put on your coat and follow me,� the angel ordered. So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn�t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. Peter finally came to his senses. �It�s really true!� he said. �The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!�

While the angel miraculously freed Peter from his bondage in chains it was up to Peter to put on his shoes, get dressed and walk out of the prison. Peter then made his way to the home of John Mark�s mother where people were gathered praying for him. They were so intent in prayer they could not believe it when Peter said it was �he� who was standing at the door. It would have been so easy to miss the answered prayers of God. Yet God knew what He was doing so that His purpose might be fulfilled.