I was reading in Acts today about the early church. I was inspired by their faith and by the high level of their commitment to Christ. I read the stories of Peter and John healing people in the name of Christ and how the priests and elders threatened them for speaking the name of Jesus. The stories empowered me and inspired me to want more but, then Acts 4:29 happened and I was astonished and I was challenged. In the midst of threats and in the knowledge of the awaited brutal persecution of The Church, the believers joined together in corporate prayer…to pray for boldness. Huh?
See, my North American brain expected them to pray for protection. Isn’t that what we pray for most often? We pray for the protection of our kids, protection from the evil one and “the hedge of protection” (what is that anyway?) to be around us while we travel. So, I was certain the early believers would pray for protection from their persecutors, but, they didn’t.
Protection isn’t a bad prayer. David prayed for protection but it wasn’t the go-to prayer for the believers in Acts 4. They prayed for boldness because their priority was that ALL would know Jesus. This was not a time to go into hiding or put a gate around their community. This was a time to shout the name of Jesus from the rooftops and in the centers of their cities. They put on their sandals and they walked out into the world proclaiming truth, healing the sick in the name of Jesus, believing for the impossible to happen all around them so that all would know Jesus.
The prayer of the early Jesus-followers got me thinking. What would America look like today if, when the pressure was on, The American Church, like our persecuted brothers and sisters across the world do daily, prayed for boldness? Certainly, God would hear our prayer. Would the Holy Spirit rise up within us as happened in the early days so that we could proclaim truth everywhere we go? Would our new found boldness be followed by signs and wonders? Would America be newly awakened to Jesus? Would we hunger and thirst for eternal things instead of being satisfied with the temporal?
And I realized that the early church was a relatively small group. And my thoughts turned to my own life. What would happen to me if I personally prayed for boldness? How would boldness in my faith change my life and the lives of my children and everyone we come in contact with?
And I began to pray the same prayer as is documented in Acts for myself, everyone in my household, and for the people of the cross all over the world who face death today for proclaiming truth. Will you pray with me?
And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power, may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Christ Fellowship member