If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Matthew 21:22
You have a problem and it's got to be solved! So, problem-solvers that we are by nature, we go to work on a solution. Occasionally, all of us feel the need for reinforcement, and that's when we inform God in prayer as to how He should handle the situation. I've discovered through trial and error, and more error than I would like to admit, that quite often my solution is at cross‑purposes with God's solution.
It seems that the early Christians found that a hard lesson to learn as well. Do you recall that crisis in the history of the church which Luke tells us about in the book of Acts? Herod, the king, killed James, the brother of John, and because he was scoring political points with the religious establishment, he decided to imprison Peter and eventually execute him as well. The problem was obvious: how to get Peter out of prison. In the natural it was a tough situation. No doubt they saw four immediate possibilities:
1) They could storm the dungeon. This would have been glamorous, in spite of being very dangerous, and, at the same time, what a publicity coup! How thrilling to show the world that God was with them! "After all," somebody could have said, "the Bible does say, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?'" But that idea wasn't practical. Sixteen soldiers guarded Peter. Two were chained to his wrists. Too difficult!
2) They could have circulated a petition. Not a bad idea. After all, don't Christians have rights, too? No doubt this could have been done quite effectively, since there were thousands of Christians at that time, and some pretty popular people had identified with the cause, but the Holy Spirit didn't impress this on their minds.
3) They could collect money and bribe Herod. Human nature doesn't change much from generation to generation. For centuries men have opened doors by greasing the palm with gold, instead of putting oil on the hinge. Politicians were corrupt then, too. But God never leads His children to violate what He has written in His Word, so rule that out.
4) Public demonstration was a live option. Why not picket the prison and talk about justice? Peter had done no wrong, and the government did insure certain rights, but public demonstration wasn't the answer.
How did the early church attack this problem? If they thought of the solutions which I just advanced, we have no record of it. Luke tells us they called a prayer meeting. How illogical! Or was it? Luke says, "But the church was earnestly praying to God for him" (Acts 12:5). How the enemies of the cross must have laughed! "We've got their number one man in the slammer," they jeered, "and what do they do, but pray." They soon realized, though, how effective prayer can be. Contrary to all reason and human logic, God heard that prayer and unlocked prison doors to release Peter even to the surprise of those who prayed.
Perhaps you are facing a difficult situation right now. In the natural you are trying to figure out how to solve it. God's way may be totally different from yours. Why not let Him solve it as only He can? Prayer is not inaction. It is not doing "nothing at all," as some think of it; it is submitting your problem to the will of your Heavenly Father, who is limited by nothing. It is the most powerful, positive course of action available to men and women today.
Long ago Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." It is true today, friend. And it's still the greatest undiscovered power in our world.
Resource reading: Acts 12