FAITH AND PUBLIC WITNESS

Opening Prayer

God, as I come to your Word today, please pour out on me fresh passion to be part of seeing your kingdom come.

Read ACTS 4:23–31

The Believers Pray

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.[a][b]

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

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Footnotes

  1. Acts 4:26 That is, Messiah or Christ
  2. Acts 4:26 Psalm 2:1,2

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

May we pray with the humility and holy boldness of the apostles.

Think Further

The response of ‘their own people’ (v. 23) to Peter and John’s report of the threats of the authorities is striking. They raised their voices to heaven in what one commentator calls an attitude of ‘holy protest.’ The language of verses 24–26 contains echoes of the psalms of lament, especially in the question, ‘Why do the nations rage…?’

The disciples recognize that history is repeating itself: the nations had always resisted God’s will, but now not only Herod and Pontius Pilate, but ‘the people of Israel’ (v. 27) were rejecting the Messiah Jesus! The question of why the long-promised coming of the reign of God so often seems delayed is not inconsistent with faith, nor is it restricted to the Old Testament, but it will often be found on the lips of suffering Christians.

However, the prayer of lament does not lead to paralysis in the light of the threats made by the authorities. In fact, it triggers further intercession in which the church requests great boldness to defy the authorities and ‘speak your word’ (v. 29) in public! The assembly refuses to confine their faith in the risen Lord to the private sphere, locked away in sectarian gatherings where it will pose no threat to the political and religious authorities. The lesson is that the message of the resurrection cannot be confined and restricted in this way, because it contains the announcement of life for a world overshadowed by death! There are serious questions here for Christians in the modern Western world, where faith has been largely restricted to the personal and private spheres, leaving politics, economics, and even moral values unchallenged by the good news of the risen Christ. At a time when injustice, poverty,and violence stalk the earth, must we not plead for holy boldness to testify to the resurrected One in the public realm?

Apply

Consider that closing question and pray for the Spirit’s gift of holy boldness.

Closing prayer

Father, I look to you to provide everything I need to continue in what you have called me to, all for your glory.

Last Updated on May 28, 2024 by kingstar

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