The Believers Prayer in Acts 4:23-31 sees the Church come together to pray after Peter and John have just returned from their trial. They had been arrested for teaching the people, and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2), after the healing of the lame beggar that Tim preached about on Sunday. Peter and John were charged not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, but replied “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
What follows unites the church. Peter and John return to speak to their friends explaining what had happened. Together as one, they lift their voices to God praying that the Lord would give them boldness to continue speaking his word.
At the end of the prayer, we read that the place in which they were gathered together was shaken and that they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Can you imagine being asked not to speak about something which you had seen and heard, that was so awesome. Think about how excited you may have been to go on a once in a lifetime holiday, maybe an achievement passing an exam, or your driving test. Most of us would agree that we were probably overjoyed, and couldn’t wait to tell people. These seem minor in comparison to what Peter and John had experienced.
How often do we pray for boldness in speaking God's word? Do we shy away from speaking out through fear or because we are worried about what that might mean for us?
As a church we have prayed together on many occasions. At prayer meetings, for nations, for Alpha, the homeless, our town. We have also had prayer meetings specifically where we have prayed for healing for those who have been very sick.
Praying together has certainly felt very powerful to me on those occasions. It’s encouraging, and lifts my spirit, in those times I have felt like anything is possible.
Phillips Brooks says, “Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks.”
The believers' prayer releases God's power. It is a great example of how we should be praying today, and that we should be expectant of what God wants to do in our lives.
I encourage you to pray for boldness in speaking God's word. Let's take on Phillips Brooks advice. I am in no doubt that God has much for us to do.