Summary: We’re at War! 1) Pray with confidence 2) Pray for confidence
An egg, a piece of bacon, a couple of sausages, a bit of cheese, a slab of butter, a pork chop, some liver, and a scoop of pudding. No, it’s not what I had for breakfast this morning. It was the weekly allotment of food per person in Britain during World War II. Can you believe that? Most of us can eat that much food in one sitting and yet it was all the food one was allowed to buy per week during the war! Clothes and gasoline were rationed too. Luxury liners were turned into troop carriers. All available resources were poured into the war effort. No, it was not a comfortable way to live but people knew what was at stake and were willing to put up with the discomfort to keep their troops supplied so that victory could be achieved.
Our sermon text reminds us that we are at war. There is a lot more at stake in this war than any other war fought in the history of mankind. In this war Satan seeks to steal faith and destroy eternal futures in heaven. And this war is not just being waged on the other side of the world; it’s being fought in our homes, at our workplace, and in our congregations. How has the knowledge that we are at war with Satan affected the way we live? Do we “ration” our time, talents, and treasures so that the war effort can be fought aggressively? Do we willingly make do with less at home so that the work of spreading the gospel abroad can continue full force? What about the way in which we use God’s gift of prayer? How has war with Satan influenced the way we pray and for what we pray? Our text demonstrates how warring Christians are to pray. We are to pray with courage, and for courage.
Although it’s sometimes easy for us to forget that we’re at war, that was not the case for the apostles. The Jewish leaders who had worked together with Pilate to have Jesus crucified, kept a close eye on the apostles’ activities and hauled them in for questioning on a regular basis. On one such occasion, Peter and John were arrested after they healed a crippled man and told the crowds that they had done this through the power of Jesus. The Jewish leaders commanded Peter and John never to even speak the name of Jesus again and threatened them with harm if they did.
Intimidation has always been an effective weapon in war. If the opposition can be intimidated, then victory can be declared without having to fire a single shot. Working through the Jewish leaders, Satan was doing his best to intimidate Jesus’ disciples. Did it work? Hardly. When Peter and John told the other disciples what had happened they prayed together with courage saying: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen” (Acts 4:25b-28).