By Steve Akin
Let’s say you’ve been arrested and threatened for sharing the Truth. Admittedly, it’s a weak threat. It’s the Pharisaical version of “You better knock it off!” But it is a threat that you need to take seriously and you have a choice as to how to respond. This is where we find Peter and John in Acts 4:23-31. They had the option to resort to groveling, hiding, or retiring, but instead, these men chose to fight back in an effective, yet unconventional way. They found their fellow believers and prayed to God with one voice, in one mind, and in accord with God’s will.
As leaders of this brand new set of believers, these men had the responsibility to do the right thing and to teach that when serving the Lord…
11. Strong resistance is to be expected,
22. Much stronger support from God is to be sought, and
33. He will provide everything we need with power and authority. Fear God more and men less.
When reading Acts 4:24-29, notice what they prayed. They honored God's Name and His creation by praising His works and His will. They quoted Scripture highlighting the Holy Spirit’s influence. Lastly, they asked for strength to do what they’ve been built and trained to do – praying that His Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Also note how brief and simple this prayer was. They may have wanted to get God’s attention – which they and we always have – but what they came to realize is that God was getting their attention to how He works and how He loves.
And here is what they didn’t pray. They didn’t freak. Nor did they say, “Shut them down, afflict them, and fill them with shame.” They didn’t ask God to obliterate an “enemy” because they understood that someone turning to Christ – regardless of background – is more useful to the building of the Kingdom than if they are erased from the earth. Lastly, they did not ask for someone else to take this duty from them. They did ask the Father to “consider their threats…” but they didn’t dwell upon them. They owned their situation.
This prayer also works for us today. The format is simple:
11. Father, outside of you and your provision, there is nothing worthwhile.
22. We want Your Will on earth.
33. But there is resistance (and that could be within ourselves).
44. Now, Lord, what is our role in this? What would you have us do?
I believe the Father is tickled to hear from us, and He isn’t surprised by anything on earth. However, I do wonder how often He hears his children ask how they can be the difference, and how often they pray with an expectant heart.
This vignette ends powerfully. God answered not in word but in power. (v. 31) “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly.” It’s like a mic drop from heaven.
We all know that God will get the last word, but we don’t know when or how. I think it's best to be on the same page with Him, speaking His Word with boldness and in faith. And I believe this is what Acts 4 is calling us to do today