Acts 4:23-31: The Believers Pray for Boldness

“When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[a] said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves,
 and the rulers were gathered together,
 against the Lord and against his Anointed’[b]— for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants[c] to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

(Acts 4:23-31, ESV)

This passage, taken from early in the book of Acts at the very beginning of the disciples’ ministry after Jesus’ return to heaven. It was the birth of the new church, and a time of active learning by experience how to rely on the voice of the Holy Spirit! The Spirit was guiding the disciples in very radical ways, but to those who walk in the Spirit today, it will not seem foreign or bizarre. This passage in particular reveals what proximity the disciples had to Jesus—they were cognizant of the time and place and plan of God; they realized what intimate and direct access they had to the Holy Spirit and they did not miss the opportunity (here, at least) to acknowledge that power. They prayed for boldness. They asked that in the face of challengers of the faith, they would not falter. How powerful, and how practical for us today. If living in such total reliance on the Spirit of God does seem foreign, as it does to me at times, we are more than likely missing opportunities to be near to the heart of God and to be empowered by his Holy Spirit. Today, to walk closely and be empowered by the Holy Spirit may look a bit different, but it is not less effective for becoming more like Christ. Before pushing send, before abandoning the teachings of Jesus when it is awkward to uphold them socially, before speaking to one another, before making big decisions, we can listen. We can, and we ought to, because it is a richer and fuller way to live!

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