“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign LORD,” they said, “you made the heaven and earth and the sea, and everything in them. 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? The Kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against His anointed one’ 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, who you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, LORD, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the Name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they had 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.”
This is a wonderful passage of Scripture in which we are instructed in the reasons and the methods of godly praying. Luke brings us to this passage with a lengthy description of a notable miracle, the healing of a man crippled from birth, and the controversy which arose out of it. It is interesting that here we see that the Church is given a wonderful opportunity to proclaim the Gospel out of the crisis that arose out of the healing of the crippled man. How often do our open doors for the proclamation of the Gospel come out of a crisis?
There is an opportunity here for the Gospel. There is also great danger for believers. They are threatened with harm if they persist in preaching and teaching in the Name of the LORD Jesus Christ. What are they to do? What would you or I do in their shoes? It is here that Luke gives us some wonderful insight into the prayer life of the New Testament Church. This insight helps us to discern our way forward as we seek to proclaim the Gospel to our generation.
- They prayed together in response to the crisis they were facing. Luke tells us that they “lifted their voices together in prayer to God.” They did not each come to this prayer meeting to present to God the differing insights that each of them had. They came to god in agreement in prayer. It seems as if they began their time together with meditation upon the teaching of Scripture. They meditated upon God’s Word and obediently allowed it to direct their way forward.
- The Scripture that the LORD brought them to was Psalm two which had been understood as Messianic for at least the century before the coming of Jesus Christ. The New Testament writers in fact go out of their way to apply this particular Psalm to the LORD Jesus Christ. This Psalm describes clearly the situation in which the Church found itself in and also pointed the way forward for them.
- To arrive at unity in our praying together it is vital that we begin with a meditation together upon the Word of God. Our goal is not to convince others of our particular interpretation of Scripture, but to let God mould us into a fellowship that obediently follows the leading of the Spirit of God. We are to be reformed by the Word of God. This is what we see the New Testament Church doing here in Acts 4.
- They then prayed asking God to enable them to boldly obey His calling upon them. Recently I have been reading about the powerful way in which the LORD has been revealing Himself to people in various parts of our world. Those who have been writing about these powerful movements of God’s Spirit consistently are asking one key question. What is the Churches responsibility in response to what God is doing? The answer that they have been coming up with is exactly what we see happening here in Acts 4:23-31. We are to be a fellowship which is praying in unity for the boldness to testify to the grace that God is pouring out upon this world. This is always the consequence of meditation together upon what the Spirit of God is revealing to us through God’s Word.