Luke tells us that many were gathered in the home of John Mark and his mother Mary. They were gathered together in order to pray for Peter. It is important to note that there is no criticism of the group that suggests they were marked by unbelief when they heard he was at the door. Were they praying only for Peter’s release? They would also have realised he might die. After all, James had been put to death. So they also would have been praying that Peter would have divine grace in order to give a good confession before Herod the next day, even if he was executed. I suspect that their comment that the person at the door was Peter’s angel suggests that they thought he was already dead. If that is the case, here is an example of the Lord giving more than one can ask or imagine in answer to prayer.
If they did not expect Peter to be released, why did they gather to pray for him? The answer to that question is that they loved him. Brotherly love always shows itself in meeting the needs of one another. There was no point in having a meeting to pray over other aspects of Peter’s life, but there was a need to pray about his current circumstances. All they could do was pray for him, and because they loved him they did.
Of course, they had many reasons to love him. Some of them would have been brought into the kingdom through his preaching of the gospel. All of them would have grown in their knowledge of the faith through his teaching. A few of them may have been personally counselled by him. Therefore, they met to pray for him.
This was a prayer meeting with one specific object – Peter. Spurgeon says on this aspect: ‘God grant that our churches may often turn their regular prayer-meetings into gatherings with a special object, for then they will become more real. Why not pray for a certain missionary, or some chosen district, or class of persons, or order of agencies? We should do well to turn the grand artillery of supplication against some special point of the enemy’s walls.’
Why did they gather together to pray for him? Perhaps it was because they felt the need of one another’s company. Yet it is far more likely that they met together because they had experienced the reality that communal prayer is far more likely to be answered than individual prayer. Individual prayer has its necessary place, but not at the expense of communal prayer. One of the cleverest tricks of the devil is to convince Christians that they can do without communal prayer. They can still do many things outwardly, but they will have lost out on spiritual power.