Summary: Responding to trial through prayers of praise and affirmation of God’s sovereignty.
The book of Acts was written by the same author of the book of Luke. In the first verse the Luke refers to his former book and it is addressed to the same person, Theophilus.
Two of the major themes of this book, and particularly at the beginning where it is focussed upon the beginning of the church, is the disciples coming together and the disciples praying. Acts 1:14 tells us that as soon as Jesus returned to heaven they joined together and they pray. On the day of Pentecost, 2:1 tells us that they were all joined together in one place. Acts 3 tells us that Peter and John were on their way to the temple to pray when they came across the crippled man.
Now in the passage that we’re focussing on this morning, entitled The Believer’s Prayer, Peter and John have just been before the Sanhedrin, the religious authorities, who have commanded them not to speak or teach again in the name of Jesus. They have made threats against their lives, and remember this is not long after these same authorities dragged Jesus before Pilate and had him crucified. That memory was still fresh in everyone’s minds.
Peter and John, upon their release, we are told that they return to their own people. They go back to what they’ve become accustomed to doing in the short history of the Christian Church. They gather together with other Christians and pray.
There’s just something special about praying with someone else; in coming together with likeminded people, who share your faith, and sharing in one another’s journey, to talk about each other’s struggles and to bring them before God. That’s exactly what Peter and John and the rest of the Christians do on this occasion. That’s exactly what we as a church want to achieve in this place. That we will be a place where we come together regularly and pray so much so that it becomes the natural course of action and a source of comfort and strength to individuals who are facing trials and struggles.
The disciples come together—remembering that they have just come from the authorities who have ordered them to stop what they are doing—and pray. It’s interesting the type of prayer that they pray at that particular moment in time. They didn’t pray a prayer of desperation, or a prayer seeking deliverance, or even a prayer asking God to smite their enemies. No, they pray a prayer that affirmed God’s sovereignty and supremacy in their lives and in the entire world.
That type of prayer affirms God’s place in our lives. It confirms for the pray-er and those joining with them in prayer that God is in control. That he is supreme, he is the creator of heaven and earth, he does know the beginning from the end and, as Romans 8:28 says, he will always work for the good of those who love him. It’s a very faithful and trusting prayer.
The other thing they do is to draw upon the promises of Scripture. Now this is not something they just did on the spot. This was something that they had been doing for some time. Reading Scripture, drawing upon it, learning it, applying it to their lives so that when the time of trial came they were ready. They had it firmly set in their hearts ready to quote and remind them that God is in control.
The passage they quote is one that applies specifically to their situation now. It’s Psalm 2, and it’s a prayer about other nations and kings conspiring against the Lord (YHWH) and against his Anointed One. At the time that Psalm 2 was written that would have applied to the King, who was anointed with oil in taking that position. The word translated ‘Anointed One’ in the Hebrew and the Greek is one we associate with Jesus. In Hebrew it’s Messiah, in Greek it’s Christ. They both mean ‘Anointed One’. So literally the verse is reinterpreted by the disciples for their specific situation. Why do the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Messiah/Christ (Jesus)?
I challenge you to bring your Bibles along to Church. To open them up and actually read them. Why? So that when those times of trial come we are prepared, our hearts are ready and the words of the Bible that have been impressed upon our lives can come to the forefront of our minds to help us in our time of need. Open your Bible, read it, allow God to speak to you every day through it. He’s done it now for thousands of years, and he’s not about to stop now.
Their prayer also includes two requests. Not that God would intervene in their situation and change it; nor were they seeking revenge. They simply ask for strength to speak his word with great boldness, and that he would perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Jesus.