The believers in Acts 4 prayed that God would observe the threats of those opposed to the gospel and that he would give boldness to the believers to continue to speak the word and that he would do miracles of healing and sings and wonders in the name of Jesus.
Believers today should pray for boldness to share Christ and for God to heal the sick.
A few questions to consider:
Do we have an urgency to share the gospel?
When faced with difficulty and opposition, how do we pray?
Do we trust that God will see us through the mistreatment we will face when we share the gospel?
Let’s look at the broader text, we are primarily going to focus on Acts 4:23-31, but we need to get the context, because context is king.
We don’t pull portions of scripture out of their context to make them say whatever we like.
So in Acts 4 we will see that Peter and John have been preaching Christ, and have been brought before the council, so we will look at that narrative for a moment but then we will focus on what the response of the believers was to the persecution they faced.
At the beginning of our passage, we see that the priests and captain of the temple and he Sadducees were greatly annoyed.
In Chapter 3, Peter and John had healed a lame beggar in the name of Jesus, and this had given them an opportunity to preach the gospel and so Peter gave a sermon about Jesus.
And they gave full credit to Jesus for the healing, and told people they needed to repent in order that times of refreshing would come from the presence of the Lord.
they attest that Jesus is the prophesied one, the prophet like Moses, who would turn people from their wickedness.
There were several things the Sadducees would not have liked about Peters preaching, but it seems the main thrust of their annoyance is the teaching about Jesus was that he was resurrected from the dead.
We know from Matthew 22 that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
Think of it like a denomination.
Today, denominations end up usually because there is some point of doctrine the rest disagree on.
So from the Mainline denominations you see that there are many offshoots.
Where someone disagreed on something, and felt strongly enough about it, they separated and formed their own denomination.
Sometimes this has to do with doctrine, sometimes it is about how the church is run, the structure or polity.
But the happen today.
I heard the number of denominations the other day and it was a huge number.
Anyway, the Sadducees had staked their claim on the idea that there was no resurrection of the dead, and so that denomination, if we can think of it that way, was completely dedicated to this idea, which seems rather fatalistic and depressing.
Sort of pessimistic.
So if you were a Jew in those days, and you took this pessimistic approach towards resurrection, then you were Sadducee.
So when a denomination finds someone within teaching something against their own doctrine, they usually will call them out.
We would here.
If you were a member in our church and were teaching something that goes against our own statement of faith or beliefs, we would call you before the elders.
If you were to teach, for example, that Jesus was not coming again, we would take issue with that.
We would try to teach you through scripture your error, but if you did not correct it, we would have to go through a process to remove you from our membership.
Now, the Sadducees had a problem with Peter and John, because as they preached the truth about Christ and his resurrection, it was against the teachings of the Sadducees.
But the Sadducees were wrong about that.
Nevertheless, they had Peter and John arrested and brought into a sort of hearing.
And at the hearing, Peter again speaks boldly in speaking of Jesus.
And they were astonished at the boldness of the men.
They decide to command them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
And you may remember their answer:
So already, Peter and John were showing great boldness.
So when they were released, what did the people pray for?
Let’s think for a moment what we might have prayed for if we were being told not to preach the gospel.
In fact, we don’t have to think too hard to come up with a current example of this.
Last week in Canada, a number of brave pastors preached on biblical marriage in contravention of a new law that went into effect in January.
The law says that no one can try to convert someone who is homosexual.
It is considered hateful to do so.
There is a threat of 5 years prison time for anyone doing this.
Franklin Graham said Canadian pastors “feel they have been stripped of their religious freedoms.”
“Critics of Bill C-4 say it is broadly worded and could even encompass private conversations about the topic, such as when a pastor or any Christian shares what the Bible teaches about sexuality,” he wrote.
Another Christian writer said that Canada’s New Ban on “Conversion Therapy” Is a Declaration of War on Christianity and God,
An article I saw stated that over 4,000 Canadian pastors signed on to preach last week in protest to this government overreach.
Do you wonder what those pastors and their teams prayed for leading up to this?
They are threatened to not speak on a biblical issue.
Does this sound anything like Peter and John?
Threatened with loss of their personal freedom or worse if they do not comply with those who tell them what they can or cannot teach?
Did they pray they could still preach and not get caught?
Did they pray that they could obey the government rather than God and that God would forgive them because they had a tough choice to make?
Did they pray that God would strike down and kill the leaders who were opposing them?
Or did they pray like the believers in Acts 4?
You see, we can learn so much from this passage and their prayer.
First off, they prayed as one.
They lifted their voices together.
This does not mean they literally chanted the same words.
The recorded prayer sums up their prayers.
But the important thing was the unity with which they prayed.
And how does the prayer begin?
A recognition of God as the Sovereign creator.
Now, this is a very important reminder to us.
You see, we very often slide into a habit of sort of forgetting who God is.
If we remind ourselves that He is the sovereign creator of the universe, then our confidence should already be increasing.
If we would remind ourselves often of who God is, and His power, then we would have much more confidence in the face of decisions that involve the choice of either obeying Him and His Word and His commands, and going another direction, regardless of whatever other pressures we may face.
This is why beginning our prayers in recognition of who God is is very helpful for our own attitude in coming to him.
Adoration, or recognizing God and His attributes, is a great way to begin your prayer.
And so our Lord taught his disciples to pray, with a recognition of who God is: “Our Father in Heaven, the one with a Holy name.”
These believers included those who followed Jesus and heard his teachings from His very mouth, so it should be no surprise that they learned from Him about the way to begin a prayer.
Another quality of their prayer that we should emulate is that they used scripture.
It was a united prayer meeting as they “lifted up their voice to God with one accord” (Acts 4:24; see 1:14).
The people were of one heart and mind, and God was pleased to answer their requests.
Division in the church always hinders prayer and robs the church of spiritual power.
Their praying was based solidly on the Word of God, in this case, Psalm 2. The Word of God and prayer must always go together (John 15:7).
In His Word, God speaks to us and tells us what He wants to do.
In prayer, we speak to Him and make ourselves available to accomplish His will.
True prayer is not telling God what to do, but asking God to do His will in us and through us (1 John 5:14–15).
It means getting God’s will done on earth, not man’s will done in heaven.
Their prayer brought Scripture to bear on their current circumstance.
The more immersed you are in God’s Word, the more you will see how it applies to your daily life, to the world around you.
The more you study God’s Word, the more your prayers will come into alignment with God’s Will.
You see, people have twisted many scriptures in regards to what we should pray for.
So when Jesus said we could ask anything in His name and receive it, they will say this means whatever I want, I can ask in Jesus name and have it.
But that is not the right way to look at it.
You see, our prayers that will be answered are not the prayers that are focused on what I want, but on what God wants.
Peter Marshall was a pastor and Chaplain of the US Senate.
His prayers were so good they were published by the AP.
His wife Katherine wrote a biography of him called “A Man called Peter”, and she said something to the effect that when our prayers align with God’s will, then His will becomes our will.
In other words, if we dedicate ourselves to knowing God’s Word, and desiring Him, then as we mature in the faith, when we pray, we will pray more and more His will, but the real beauty is that when we pray his will, it will be what we want, because we want the same things He does.
The scripture they use is from Psalm 2:1-2
The believers then identified who they were considering Psalm 2 to apply to in their situation.
Herod, Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel.
And what are they doing?