29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29-30 NIV)
These words are the end of a prayer (vss. 23-30) the church prays after Peter and John are released by the authorities.
They pray in response to the threats of the authorities and their admonition to Peter and John not to speak in Jesus’ name any more. Despite the threats, they pray for boldness to speak. And they ask for God not to protect them but to do miraculous deeds that will bring attention and glory and honor to the name of the one whom they had been told not to speak again, Jesus.
They also don’t pray for punishment or judgment – rather they pray that they know that God is in control even when others seem to be so.
I am humbled to read this story – I had not remembered it at all until re-reading it as part of today’s Life Plan reading. So much of what I pray is about small things, my things. And to avoid things – to be redeemed from danger, to be relieved of trial.
Their prayer convicts me, too – I do not often, if ever, pray with such fervor for God’s mission to be done through me and my church and the many with whom I am blessed to do ministry.
Their prayer reflects a love that I need to cultivate. They didn’t pray for God to punish those who had wronged them or sought to stop them. They prayed that they would speak do in spite of who and what they faced.
Sovereign Lord, Creator of All —
You spoke through the Law and the Prophets, through Christ and His Apostles. Persecuted, ignored, confronted they did not waver but spoke boldly for their Lord. Enable me to speak and act and live as boldly. As they prayed, “… stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And may he be glorified and his name praised and him trusted and loved and followed because of what you permit me, my church, my partners in ministry to do. Amen.