Peter and John had been in the forefront of ministry but they weren’t alone. As soon as they were released from prison, they returned to the other believers. This Acts 4 v 23-31 passage has provoked me over the last few days. Who do you and I go to when things get tough?
Simply put:- some days work out differently to the way we expect! It was only yesterday that Peter and John had made an entirely routine visit to the Temple. But look what had followed: healing, preaching, a huge influx into this young church, prison and an order to keep things quiet. They would have been exhausted and more than a bit stretched.
Their response was straightforward: they went back to base and prayed. And it’s quite the prayer. They were united – verse 24, focused on God verse 24, used scripture verse 25 & 26, remembered their previous experience verse 27, recognised God’s sovereignty verse 28, and concentrated on mission, not their own needs verses 29 and 30. And this pattern is for our encouragement and echo.
And the result? A mini-Pentecost, seen in verse 31! In trusting confidence, the community did not pray to be kept safe from persecution. They didn’t turn inward but rather kept outward facing in their desire to fully be God’s grace for their community. They did not seem to consider obeying the rulers. They appealed to God’s justice in dealing with their opponents. Then they prayed for strength, courage and boldness freely to proclaim his word, so that the good news would continue to spread and Jesus’ work of healing and performing signs would authenticate their witness to him.
Sometimes my prayers default to the self-centred and trivial. We are challenged to know God in a deeper way through his word and to pray, trusting that his purposes are being worked out in this troubled world. We need the Spirit’s courage to proclaim Jesus through our words and efforts in His name. Then we can be confident of Gods favour. Here’s to more of verse 31 in our communities!