As I was reading Acts 4 this morning, something stood out to me. In the previous chapter God had used Peter & John to bring healing to a paralyzed man. This man was widely recognized by the Jewish worshippers going to the Temple in Jerusalem because he was placed every day near one of the Temple entrances to beg. Peter took the opportunity to preach about Jesus to the gathering crowd. As a result a few thousand people joined this group of Jesus-followers.

The religious authorities investigating the matter found out that Peter and John were behind the healing, and had used it as a platform to preach about Jesus’ resurrection. This was not acceptable!  Peter & John answered their interrogation with the courage that comes from conviction. The authorities had to stop this, but didn’t want to risk creating making more martyrs at this point. So they did what people in authority often do: they threatened Peter and John. They warned them not to preach about or even mention the name of Jesus. The consequences would be extreme!

Peter and John immediately went back to their fellow believers, who gathered together to pray. Let me add here that if you don’t have a group of fellow believers that you do life with, you’re missing out on a major way God desires to support and encourage you, and develop your faith. (see Acts 2:42-47)

What caught my attention today was the content of their prayer. Notice what they asked God for in response to the persecution they were facing:
And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage, while you extend your hand to heal, and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.
(Acts 4:29-30)
They didn’t ask for favor, or that the threat would be neutralized. They didn’t pray that God would shield them from the persecution. No. They prayed for courage (boldness)! They asked God to use them in an even greater way to be witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. And they asked for God to do miracles through them to endorse their message.

As our culture wanders further and further away from its Christian roots we need to remember how these early believers handled opposition. They used it as an occasion for prayer. And their prayers weren’t for protection. They were for increased courage and boldness. May our prayers contain the same faith and resolve in the face of threatening circumstances!

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