Summary: Do you want boldness? The early disciples found themselves in need of boldness and this is how they got it. Something every believer should be praying.
When the early church prayed
Acts 4:23-31 The Apostles Prayer
And being let go they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said:
"Lord You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of your servant David have said:
’why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’
For truly against your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out our hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.
And when they had prayed the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (NKJV)
If we just go back before we go forward we will see that the reason for this prayer meeting was the result of the lame man being healed. "silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth get up and walk." Immediately after he was healed Peter and John made the most of the situation and began to preach. As soon as the religious authorities heard about it they threw Peter and John into prison and left them there until the next day. Then they forbid them to preach in this name again and let them go.
1) Persecution foretold
This should have come as no real surprise to the apostles because of what Jesus had told them concerning persecution. Jesus said to them
John 16:2 the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God a service.
Matt 10:17 but beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues
John 15:20 Remember the word that I spoke to you, "a servant is not greater than his master," if they persecute Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.
No one is greater than his master - our master is a suffering servant.
The disciples had plenty of warning for what lay in store for them. Jesus did not leave them without letting them know what lay ahead. They knew that they would be treated like Jesus.
Where He was given respect they would get respect but where Jesus was not respected then they would not be respected. When they watched their master die maybe they thought that they would possibly end up with the same end.
But one thing is for sure they certainly couldn’t turn round to Jesus in heaven and say, "Why didn’t you tell us?"
And we have the same understanding too
Philippians 1:21 "For me to live is Christ to die is gain."
2) The enemy threatens
It is clear from the passage that the reason that they were prompted to pray in this way was because they had their first taste of persecution from the authorities. It would seem that courage came no more easily to them as it does to us, to maintain courage they had to rely on the Holy Spirit.
Why does the enemy threaten?
He threatens to provoke fear to drive us away from our work, but it should work in the opposite way. Fear should drive us to pray for strength and boldness in the face of the enemy’s objections.
If you don’t feel welcome in a situation as an ambassador of Jesus then it may just be that the enemy doesn’t want you there because he knows the God we serve.
1Peter 5:8 "your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour"
The enemy the devil is no more than a roaring Lion - God is sovereign.
The devil makes a lot of noise. Trying to distract us from looking to Jesus. If we focus on the noise then fear sets in. we must always remember that God is God and the enemy is only an Angel and a fallen one at that.
We can not afford to walk away from a challenge because of fear. Our actions have serious consequences. It may be that you are instrumental in changing lives because you were obedient and resolved your determination to hang in and see it through. Walking away is like being ashamed of Jesus.