The new church, established in the events following the receiving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, was an intense affair! Riding on the back of the newly risen and ascended Christ, the church was growing at a phenomenal rate, with a momentum that could have crashed through mountains. The council tried to stop them. They failed. Peter and John were tried before the council for proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection from dead, for it meant that if true the Jewish leaders had put an innocent man to death and they just didn’t want that sort of publicity. Shutting them up was a good option.
Unable to hold them in light of the incontestable evidence before them though (the healed lame man standing before them made sure of that), the council reluctantly let them go, on one condition. To speak no more of the name of Jesus, a condition accompanied by many threats, but no punishment. With no legal grounds to stop them, they tried to frighten them into silence.
It didn’t work. After being released (Acts 4:23), Peter and John went back to their friends and told them everything that had happened. Rather than being downhearted and feeling fearful they lifted up their voices together and united in prayer to God, praising his name and acknowledging the persecution of Jesus and the work done through him. They were aware of the threats that they faced and asked for boldness to continue spread the gospel in Jesus’ name.
You don’t see the church suffering from a lack of confidence in Acts, or feeling inferior. Compared to the Jewish council, or the Roman authorities, the church wasn’t much to look at and they didn’t have any say in the running of the temple, or synagogues. What they did recognise though was that God was in control and while they couldn’t control everything around them, they could raise their voices in praise to God and let Him do the work for them, without fear.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11)
Their request in this united prayer was in response to a need that arose. The leaders were trying to silence them, so they asked simply and directly for boldness so they could be a strong voice for Jesus. It wasn’t a long list of small requests, but what was really needed at the time.
Make your prayer a habit, united together with other believers in recognising that God is in control and that he can help you achieve His will. Keep it simple. Ask him for your daily needs, anything that empowers us to speak His word and don’t forget to acknowledge God for who He is!