“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they 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.” (Acts 4.29-31)
The next few posts are going to look at the idea of the Resurrection of Jesus “setting loose the energy of Heaven.” Many of the signs of the energy of Heaven point to Jesus reconciling all things to himself, whether that be race, culture, gender, creation, poverty, etc. These are clear outcomes that show that the winds of the Spirit have moved.
But this passage from the book of Acts reminds us that as potent as the signs of the Spirit of God are as they transform society, perhaps the quintessential mark of the energy of Heaven must be measured first in spiritual terms.
This is the first window we get into a prayer meeting in the book of Acts, and it is incredible. The believers are experiencing intense persecution and they are scared (legitimately so I would say). There is a very real threat against their lives, and authorities are pushing back against the spread of Christianity.
What I find interesting is to see what it is they prayed for. What would you pray for if your life was in danger? My guess is that I would first pray for safety and protection. Scratch that – if I am honest the first thing I would probably pray is that God would smite down those that were persecuting me (King James language always seems more appropriate when praying for someone’s demise).
But watch these early believers – in the midst of incredibly dangerous circumstances, what do they pray for?
Not safety, or protection, or personal prosperity, or a guarantee of a future reward. They pray for boldness. Boldness to speak the name of Jesus. Boldness to stand firm in the face of tremendous adversity. Boldness to trust that the hand of God would continue to touch and heal people as the name of Jesus was spoken.
That is incredibly convicting to me. I badly want to experience the power of God in my own life, and I badly want to see the power of God unleashed in my neighborhood, city, country, and world. This passage reminds me how to get to that power source (prayer) as well as what to ask for (boldness).
And isn’t it interesting how God answered them? “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.” It was if, for one moment, God gave those early believers a sense of perspective. The threats they were facing were real, even powerful if you want to call it that. But the majesty and power and providence that came from the heart of God dwarfed any threats they were facing by mere humans.
That sense of contrast and power gave them a renewed sense of vision, hope, and courage. They got the Spirit of God, and they got bold. The energy of Heaven was about to be set loose.
May that be true for you and I.