Text: Acts 4.23-31 (Read it here)
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
(Acts 4.29-30, NIV)
Author: Rob Anderson
Are you there?
Are you sure?
Because, you see, last time we had this conversation, I’m not sure you really heard me. At least, I wonder if you did because nothing really changed, or at least, I don’t feel like it did and so, here I am again.
Are you there?
There is a part of me that is jealous of the believers in Acts 4. In the midst of great struggles they pray to God for boldness and what happens? The place they were meeting was shaken by what we can only assume was the power of God.
Too often, my prayers are more like the one above, not prayers of power that God responds to in miraculous ways.
That being said, I don’t want us to assume that our prayers are unheard (they are not) or that a prayer without shaking ground is invalid (it is not). Instead, let’s look at three things that might give us more comfort during our times of prayer.
First, notice that the believers pray to the “Sovereign Lord.” They go on to explain what they mean by this: the one who made the heavens and earth. When you pray, do you remember and acknowledge the power of God?
Second, when troublesome times hit the believers, their first inclination is to pray. Not complain or bemoan their circumstances with one another. They turn to God and pray. How do you respond to troubles?
Last, they seek to move into the fire, not away from it. Too often we try to pray away the problems. In Acts 4, the believers pray for boldness to speak powerfully.
The ground may not shake when you pray, but God’s power is no less real when you do.
When you face trouble or persecution (even a minor episode of trouble), what is your response? What would you consider an appropriate response? What would you consider a poor response? How does your response compare to how the early Christians in Acts responded when facing persecution?
Why do the Christians in Acts 4 appeal to God’s sovereign nature when they pray to him? What does their prayer tell you about how they viewed God, especially during times of dire circumstances?
How do you think you would respond if you prayed for God to “stretch out his hand” and at the conclusion of the prayer the place where you were meeting was shaken? How do we assume God will respond to our prayers? Does our assumptions indicate a sense of trust or indicate we may be filled with more doubts than faith? In what ways?