Prayer for Boldness
The lame beggar rejoiced that he was healed, and the crowd also praised God. But Peter and John were arrested, imprisoned and brought before a religious court. However, their only punishment, without stirring a riot among the people, was to threaten the apostles never to speak about Jesus again (Acts 4:18). So, on their release, the church came together to pray (Acts 4:23-31).
The threats were real. As we shall see, the apostles soon spent more time in prison (Acts 5:17-18); but they were eager not to be bullied into disobeying God. So they prayed that the Lord would show them what to do about the threats, and give them boldness to keep on preaching about Jesus and the gospel. Boldness was not a natural consequence of human assertion; in the face of serious threats it would not happen unless God provided a deep inner confidence that it was right to keep speaking about Jesus.
Their prayer was not for their own comfort and security but that everybody would see that the Name of Jesus is powerful. They wanted people to be saved. As they prayed, they experienced a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, like at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Their prayer was answered: the threats melted away as the Spirit gave them the assurance they needed, that it was God's will to tell everybody about Jesus.
If they were apostles who had been filled with the Holy Spirit, why did they need to pray for boldness? The simple answer is that they knew that they could not do God's work without God's power. The Apostle Paul made the same prayer request (Ephesians 6:19-20). Right to the end of his life Paul knew that knowledge, fellowship and discipline were not enough to do God's will (2 Timothy 4:16-18): Paul needed the presence of God to give the courage necessary to speak for Jesus in a hostile environment. If that is true of apostles, how much more do we need our brothers and sisters to pray for us. Ask them to pray that you will know God's powerful presence at work and in the community so that you can tell them about Jesus and His saving grace.
© Dr Paul Adams