Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Prayer: A Lesson From Acts 4:23-31

In Acts 3-4, the narrative begins with Peter and John healing a lame man. This is followed by subjection to questioning and threats from the Jewish leadership, and then they are released. They return "to their own company" to share what happened, and to pray. This is their prayer:

24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
The prayer is seven verses long in our Bible (vs. 24-30). A few observations:
  • The first five verses are used in praising God! Do we spend approximately 5/7 (or 5/70, for that matter) of our prayers in praising the One to Whom we speak?
  • The only "current" reference to their situation is in vs. 29: "behold their threatenings." They do not ask God to strike down or to curse their enemies—they merely ask the all-knowing God to "be aware" of their situation. I see an implication of trust, that God will not only be aware, but meet the needs of the situation.
  • They make three requests:
    • To speak the Word boldly
    • Healing from the hand of God
    • Signs and wonders to be done in Jesus' name
  • These three requests are clearly made so that God be glorified, not so that they be better off in some way or another.
Are our prayers similar to this? And is the response of the Holy Spirit similar? Although we may not expect a shaking of our buildings when we pray, it is worthwhile to note that they went forth and preached with boldness—just as they had requested!

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