Summary: God’s people have found courage through prayer throughout history. There is no time like the present to reach up and be recharged with God’s blessings through prayer.
Courage in Prayer
How do you handle being hated for your Christian faith? What do you do?
In a minute we will look at Acts 4. We’ll see what God tells us about courageous praying here. (Acts 4 records how opposition arose during the early days of the church and how the early disciples handled it).
Just imagine! Jesus has been raised from the dead not many days before this. The Holy Spirit has come upon the apostles with power and heavenly signs. The gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached and thousands are being converted and added to the church! God’s kingdom has broken into history and is advancing with amazing swiftness. Joy unspeakable, full of glory, everyone in Jerusalem is hearing the message!
Listen to Jeremiah 3:14-18. It is happening! God has begun the restoration of Israel! Jews from everywhere under heaven had gathered together in Jerusalem on that Pentecost morning. They have witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of God’s call through the son of David, the Son of God, Jesus Christ! It is a time of great celebration and praise! The harvest of the kingdom has begun. The gospel must be preached to the Jews first, then also to the rest of the world.
The church in its infancy was completely Jewish. God is gathering from among them those who will follow Jesus Christ. Not long after the gathering began, opposition raised its ugly head. Acts 4 tells the story. Let’s read…
The first 22 verses are loaded! Peter and John have come to the temple at the hour of prayer and in the name of Jesus, healed a beggar who was paralyzed. The news spreads everywhere in the city. Crowds gather and Peter preaches the gospel. They tell the people that Jesus who was crucified is raised from the dead. He is God’s chosen Christ and in Jesus name alone is salvation.
The Jewish leaders who put Jesus to death are furious. They arrest Peter and John and question them. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit fires back in boldness: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead that this man is healed. Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, he has become the cornerstone. Salvation is in Jesus name and his name alone!
The Jewish leaders are bumfuzzeled. They tell them to stop speaking in Jesus name, but Peter and John reply: Should we obey God or men? Hmmm. You judge. We can’t stop speaking what we have seen and heard!
They are threatened further and released. I think they know that trouble is brewing. They probably have an idea that this is just the beginning of opposition. So what do they do? They gathered the church and prayed.
Look at verses 23-31
Don’t you love that? They brought it all before the Lord in prayer and laid it out. I love this too: they interpreted what was happening to them with scripture and saw themselves actually fulfilling the very scriptures they preached.
They didn’t ask God to keep them from opposition.
They didn’t ask God to be sure everyone was safe.
They didn’t ask God kill the opposition.
What did they pray?
First of all, God, we know you who made everything are in control. Your word even told us of the opposition that would come. They only did what your power and will planned beforehand.
Therefore… consider their threats. That is all that they ask in regard to the opposition. Lord, consider what they have said. Why? Because we are in your hands and we believe that you know what is going on and by the way, they are in your hands too. So do what you will do that is best.
As for us… enable your servants to speak your word with boldness.
Where does the power to speak the word of God with boldness come from? Where does the power to effectively communicate the gospel come from? They believed it came from God.
Notice they didn’t ask God to protect them from any pain or suffering. No, they only asked for power to proclaim the word of God boldly.
Courage in prayer. Don’t we need God’s blessing of courage today? Christian courage to stand and speak when it is not easy. Christ-like courage to be bold about telling others of our faith in Jesus Christ when it isn’t popular. Parents need this at home and at work. Kids need this at school and with their friends. Where will we get this courage to confess our faith in Christ?
One more thing they prayed in verse 30. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miracles and wonders through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.