Lord God, You are the One who graciously reaches out to me. I am available to You now.
Read Acts 4:23-31
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“We need to recapture Paul’s perspective: the Spirit as the experienced, empowering return of God’s own personal presence in and among us” (Gordon Fee).
Of all the notable prayers in the Bible this is one of the most remarkable. It focuses on the God who is in control (24). Their reading of Scripture tells Peter and John that, in spite of appearances, opposition to the Lord’s chosen one is futile. The prayer is based on a conviction of ultimate victory. They quote Psalm 2, which celebrates the victory of God and calls his enemies to worship. The prayer makes no attempt to deny the danger they are in, but equally it acknowledges all that God has done and is doing in Jesus. It reveals a profound trust and a genuine courage.
Given the circumstances, we might expect a prayer that God will intervene in power to stop the opposition, to remove the leaders, but their prayer is that they might speak with boldness (29) and see more of the miraculous activity of God (30). These were the very things that had just created trouble for them. The victory of God is to be seen not in the immediate removal of opposition but in the faithful witness of his servants, acting in obedience to his call, proclaiming truth and demonstrating God’s power over sickness and death. There is a danger that our prayers can become too focused on ourselves and our needs, rather than on the wider purposes and needs of God’s mission.
In the event their prayer, focused on God’s mission, is answered. The Spirit comes again, and their power is renewed. For our work of mission, we constantly need this renewal of the Spirit. Whatever our theological understanding of the work of the Spirit, we cannot rest in yesterday’s experience or empowering. Every day requires a conscious dependence on the only one who can give us the strength, and who will work in us and through us.
Examine your prayer life and see how you can learn from the pattern of prayer displayed here by these early Christians.
Mighty God, after these early believers prayed, they were shaken up and received a fresh empowering of Your Spirit. Teach me, too, to pray as they prayed.
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