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August 15, 2018, 7:50 AM

After They Prayed

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“After they prayed…” (Acts 4:31).

Evangelism and prayer were linked together in the Early Church. They did not depend upon their training and techniques to insure success. Neither can we, for talented and trained people with well-organized and well-advertised programs can fail. There are some things that only happen after we pray. Our dependence must be upon God. Before we raise our voices in witness, we need to raise our voices in prayer. Let’s see what we can learn from Acts 4 to guide our prayer and evangelism today.

First, the object of their prayer: “Sovereign Lord” (v. 24). The Sanhedrin represented the power structure of Jerusalem. But Christ’s disciples were convinced that, contrary to all appearances, God ruled. The Creator – “You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them” – is in charge of history. If God was in charge there, fulfilling His prophetic word (vv. 25-28), He was also in control of their situation. We need to recapture this undaunted faith in the Almighty One.

Second, the content of their prayer: “Now Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness” (v. 29). They were threatened, and they knew the Sanhedrin meant business. But they did not ask for release from their assignment, only for courage to carry it out in the face of threats. “Boldness” occurs several times in Acts, always in a context of witnessing and persecution. People unwilling to risk and speak do not need courage. The enemies of the Lord had stretched out their hands to harass and hurt. Now the disciples prayed that God’s hand may be extended in help and blessing. They prayed that God would give them the power to be bold for Him.

Third, the results of prayer: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (v. 31). Power is not an abstract quality. It is the Holy Spirit, himself, living in and working through the followers of Jesus Christ. “In the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14) Jesus preached, taught, and healed. In the power of the Spirit must His people do the work of the Kingdom. The Spirit generates boldness – the moral courage that defies threats because a lost world must hear of the Savior’s love and power. The Holy Spirit speaks “the word of God” through our lips. Our formulas of thought are never the answer to man’s deep spiritual needs. It is God’s Word that convicts, heals, and redeems. The Holy Spirit is committed to the gospel. He came to testify of Jesus. And in the power of His indwelling the Church is likewise committed to the “word of God.”

How like our own situation was that of the Early Church! We too are surrounded by the lost and the hurt who desperately need Jesus. We too are threatened by those who believe themselves in control of things and who protect their vested interests by opposing the gospel. We too have access to God, the true Sovereign, who can work in and with us to the glory of his “holy servant Jesus” (v. 30). We too can be filled with the Spirit, furnished with boldness to speak for Christ, and thus assured of success in our mission. “They raised their voices together in prayer to God” (v. 24). Come, let us do that same thing! Until we pray, nothing can happen. After we pray, anything can happen!

Let us join in prayer: Sovereign Lord, enable us to speak your word with great boldness. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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