Great Prayers of the Bible: Bold Prayer in the Book of Acts
One of the boldest prayers in the Bible occurs in the fourth chapter of the
book of Acts in the New Testament. By virtue of its sheer “gutsyness” and the powerful and immediate response from God, it just has to be included in the Great Prayers Hall of Fame.
Peter and John had been arrested after the dramatic healing of a lame beggar at the Gate Beautiful. Since this man had been lame from birth and well known to all who frequented the Temple, his total healing had caused quite a stir. When a huge crowd gathered, Peter and John began to preach about Jesus and that created another stir, one that had gotten them arrested with an overnight stay in jail.
The next morning they were summoned for questioning by the Jewish elders and high priests. Again, Peter boldly preached. He and John were recognized as two of the uneducated men who had been with Jesus and here they were speaking and acting with great authority. These Jewish leaders were the very men who had arranged for the crucifixion of Jesus and yet Peter boldly told them to their face:
“…Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by this name this man stands here before you in good health.” (Acts 4:10)
The leadership was non-plussed. They said among themselves; “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.” (Acts 4:16) So they commanded Peter and John not to speak or teach anymore in the name of Jesus and threatened them and then released them because they were afraid of the people.
A Great Prayer Meeting
Peter and John returned to their companions and told them everything that had happened and a giant prayer meeting erupted. They raised their voices and prayed in one accord ending with this:
“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond – servants may speak Thy word with all confidence, while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29)
Gone was the fear and trepidation of the disciples of Jesus that was evident before and after his death. Boy was it! In its place was fierce boldness, authority and power. What had happened? Everything changed on the morning of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 in the upper room filling them to overflowing. Peter preached such a dynamite sermon that 3000 were saved right on the spot. Now they were going great guns. They weren’t cowering in the dark, afraid they would suffer the same fate as their Lord; they were out in the thick of things; healing the sick, preaching the gospel, adding to their numbers daily, turning their world upside down.
Let’s look at what their prayer asked for. “And now, Lord, take note of their threats.” You would have thought the end of that sentence would be something like, “and protect us against these enemies,” or ” remove them and their influence,” but instead they asked that God give them greater confidence when speaking his word. Their antidote for threats was boldness. Then they asked for two additional things likely to get them in even more trouble. They asked for more healings to occur and signs and wonders to take place. The healing of the lame beggar got them arrested. Now they wanted more healings?
God heard their prayers
God’s response to their prayer was a ringing endorsement! The Bible says;
“And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31) I wonder if the shaking was something like hearing God’s applause from heaven. “Yes, I’ll answer THAT prayer. Yes, I’ll give you boldness! Wait till you see the healings! You want signs and wonders? You’ll get signs and wonders! You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
This was not a request they had to pray and fast and wait over. After their prayer meeting they rushed out into the world and threw themselves into the work of the kingdom of God with phenomenal results. Huge numbers of people came into the kingdom. They saw healings and they saw signs and wonders. They also continued to get arrested, jailed, flogged, and even killed. They were persecuted terribly but that only caused the message to spread. They wanted the advancement of God’s kingdom more than they wanted their own safety.
Is this the kind of prayer you would like to pray? Probably not many of us would. The part about walking up to some person in a wheelchair and saying, “Get up and be healed in the name of Jesus!” sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? How about preaching a sermon so powerful that 3000 people rush the altar when you are finished? How about raising the dead? Throwing off a viper that has just bitten you without poisonous results? These are all events recounted in the rest of the book of Acts that goes on for 29 chapters of pure excitement. If you have never read it, do so.
The cost of boldness
The other side of the prayer is counting the cost of such boldness. Satan is not about to put up with having his own kingdom disturbed without some payback. The early followers of Jesus thought it was worth it. Today there are still many followers of Jesus throughout the world who think it is worth it. They are asking for the power and receiving it and then paying whatever price they have to pay.
Are you such a one? Do you have some fire in your belly and you don’t mind a good fight? Gutsy! Daring! Courageous! Is that you? PRAY THE PRAYER! The world needs the results of that prayer now more than ever. The place where you are may be shaken. Is that God applauding you? Let me know when it happens! I’ll applaud with him!
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