How to pray when threatened
The extraordinary example of Peter and John in Acts 4
In Acts 4, Peter and John were imprisoned for speaking about Jesus and his resurrection (Acts 4:1-4). The leaders of the city demanded that they stop ALL speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:5-18).
When Peter and John explain that they cannot stop speaking about Jesus, they are threatened once again and commanded to remain silent, not speaking the name of Jesus (Acts 4:19-22).
After being released, Peter and John returned to the other disciples, explain what happened, and begin to pray.
They did not pray for protection.
They did not pray for freedom to proclaim Jesus without repercussions.
They do not pray for those who stand against them to be removed from the picture.
Instead, they pray:
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30, CEB)
And now they’re at it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and miracles and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30, MSG)
When they finished praying, Scripture tells us, “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).
Praying over and through Acts 4:1-31
Our heavenly Father, our resurrected Savior Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit, the One who pours the love of God into our hearts – you know the obstacles, the difficulties, and the threats that exist for those who desire to live Christlike lives and speak the name of Christ faithfully. We live in a culture where it can seem like these obstacles and threats are increasing all the time.
Help us not to focus on these difficulties, but rather focus on you. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, teaching us and enabling us to speak the name of Jesus with confidence. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, inspiring us and equipping us to clearly and boldly share the hope that we have we Christ with the people in our families, at our school and workplaces, in our neighborhoods, and communities, and as we are going each day.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit, giving us wisdom to speak the truth in an attitude of Christlike love. Help us to be prepared in season and out, with words full of grace…and hope…and peace…and with all the fruit that the Spirit gives.
And as we step out in faith to speak your name with confidence and boldness, we ask you to bring healing – spiritual, physical, emotional – and to reveal yourself, by your Spirit, to those who hear our words and see our lives.
We ask this in the name of Jesus.
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