In Acts 12, two of the key people in the early church are in trouble at the hands of Herod.
James – brother of John and son of Zebedee – is arrested and executed. When Herod realises that this has increased his credibility with the Jews, Peter is arrested and put in prison. Luke notes that the church was praying earnestly for him.
Peter is dramatically rescued by an angel of the Lord (he woke, the dungeon flamed with light; his chains fell off, he was free) and makes his way to the house where the church is praying for him.
Despite their earnest prayer for Peter, it looks as though the church did not really believe that God was going to rescue him. For when he did, and Peter turned up, no one believed the servant girls who had answered the door to Peter. In fact there is an almost comical situation where the church are arguing with Rhoda while Peter is patiently continuing to knock on the door. Was Peter surprised that it had been easier to get out of prison than it was to get into the prayer meeting?
The structure of the chapter teaches a powerful lesson. It starts with the violent injustice of Herod that results in the martyrdom of James. But it ends with Herod being struck down and eaten by worms.
But the word of God increased and multiplied.