Far too often my prayers amount to little more than a quick "Thank you" to God and then a laundry list of requests to make my day go more smoothly. While there is nothing wrong with bringing our personal petitions to God, it is problematic if this is far and away our main focus. When we look at the early church, we see a different set of priorities. In particular, when the church is gathered in Acts chapter 4, we read of them praying for something that we often lack: boldness.
In the beginning of Acts 4 Peter and John are taken before the religious leaders in Jerusalem. The goons in charge command the apostles to stop preaching Christ or else. Peter and John in essence reply that they are going to continue proclaiming Jesus no matter what the leaders say. After additional threats, Peter and John are released; they return to meet with the church body.
Then we come upon Acts 4:23-31 (please click on the link, read the passage, and then come back here).
We learn a great deal from both what the believers do pray for and what they do not. Please note that they do not, at least in these verses, ask for protection from persecution. Frankly, if I found myself in this situation most of my thoughts would dwell on how to avoid pain and suffering. Not so these Christ-followers in Acts 4. They had their priorities straight. Self-preservation was not the priority. Something else mattered more to them.
What did they pray for? In 4:29 we read the following, "And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants 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." They request two specific things. The first is for continued boldness in gospel proclamation. The second is that God would perform signs and wonders.
I have to confess that I basically never pray for these things. That's got to change. I suppose one of the reasons we see so few people come to Christ in this country is that we fail to pray for the boldness we need. Additionally, many of us evangelicals act as if God is no longer in the miracle business.
Moving forward I plan to begin praying like the early believers. I desperately need boldness to proclaim Christ. My job has me right in the middle of a bunch of people who need Christ. I have the opportunity, but need boldness. It would also be wonderful if God would perform signs and wonders. Maybe He hasn't because I haven't asked. I intend to start.
Will you join me in praying for both boldness and miracles?