“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29-30)
I’ve often marveled at this prayer spoken by the church in response to the release of Peter and John from their brief imprisonment. To begin with, it’s interesting that Luke chose to record this prayer when you would have to assume that there was a great amount of praying done before their release (see Acts 12:5ff). But what really fascinates (and convicts) me is the content of this petition.
They essentially ask God for two things: that He will take care of His business (consider the threats against the believers, heal and perform signs and wonders), and that they might be enabled to take care of theirs (speaking with great boldness). Of special interest is that God will “consider their threats.” This is placed totally in God’s hands. They don’t start a petition drive, call the paper, or hire a lawyer to sue the Sanhedrin—they simply ask Him to note what was said (v. 21). They don’t ask for His protection or that He might prevent anything. What they do ask is that they might speak courageously.
With a prayer like that it’s little wonder when they’re done the place is shaking and they are filled with the Spirit. Their request to speak boldly is also granted (v. 31), but that seems to be just the start of things. They are arrested again. This time some want to put them to death (5:33), but after the speech of Gamaliel, they settle for flogging (beating) them (v. 40). Then Luke records for us the reaction of the apostles to all of this —“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name,” (v. 41). Oh, and one more thing: “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah,” (v. 42). Their prayer was answered (as all prayers are), but theirs was answered in the sense that they received what they prayed for. God had Luke write it down as an example for all believers. What will help our churches grow and glorify God? I supposed a lot of things would be helpful, but this should be at the top of the list—bigger prayers make better churches!
Think about that the next time you pray. It might just shake things up.