In the book of Acts, Christianity is new and exciting. The Good News of Jesus is powerfully saving literally thousands. The young Church is thriving.
But in Acts 4, after two of Jesus' disciples, Peter and John, miraculously heal a man in Jesus' name, the authorities arrive and arrest them. It's the first time anyone spends the night in jail for the sake of the Gospel.
The next day, the men are questioned and threatened. Keep quiet, they were told.
Peter and John eventually are released and then return to the gathered church. The congregation rejoices, of course, and then together voices a prayer.
It’s the prayer I do not expect.
If I was on the prayer-writing committee that day, I’d probably suggest something like: “Place a hedge of protection around us.” Or, “Take away this opposition we are facing.” Or, “Comfort us while we huddle here terrified."
That’s what I usually pray. My prayers often are inward-focused. Protect me. Remove my burden. Give me relief from my problems.
But not these early believers. Listen to their prayer:
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29).
Their request is not for themselves, but rather for the work of God to continue through them! For His Gospel to advance above all else. Essentially, they're praying, “We trust you, God, to lead us wherever your glory can be most fully on display.”
Why? Why would these people pray like this? Don’t they know this prayer could lead them directly into suffering? A prayer like this could disrupt their entire lives. It could bring even death. Why pray this prayer?
Only because they were so convinced that the Gospel of Jesus was better than anything else.
Certainly God hears my personal prayer requests. Our Father cares for us and doesn’t turn away from our need.
But oh, to pray the unexpected prayer. The one compelled by the Gospel of Jesus.
The prayer that focuses so much less on my safety and so much more on His work being accomplished. The prayer that seeks God’s will to be done, even if it means inconvenience or great loss. The prayer that begs for boldness to obey God, to speak His Gospel, to love selflessly.
The prayer that says, “I trust you, God, to lead me wherever your glory can be most fully on display.”