Speaking with Boldness
Acts 4:24 When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them,
Acts 4:25 it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples imagine vain things?
Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
and the rulers have gathered together
against the Lord and against his Messiah.’
Acts 4:27 For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed,
Acts 4:28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness,
Acts 4:30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Acts 4:31 When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
It was in Acts 2 that we had previously found the whole group of Jesus’ disciples together and praying when the Holy Spirit came on them on the day of Pentecost. Now, we find them together again and this time their prayer is recorded for us. It is here that they express to the Lord that there is opposition to their ministry, an opposition that includes persecution, and yet, their prayer is not for personal protection nor is it for punishment of those who may “rage” against them. These believers pray that in the midst of the threats they might be able to speak with boldness.
Their prayer was answered and it is believed that they literally experienced an earthquake as their prayer meeting came to a close, and they were strengthened and filled again with the Holy Spirit. They were able to leave the prayer meeting, facing threats and speaking boldly.
As I think about this prayer of Jesus’ disciples I am humbled. If I had been there, what would I have been praying for? After the day of Pentecost and the power of the Holy Spirit they were experiencing wouldn’t you have wanted to pray down fire from heaven on those who simply would not believe? Wouldn’t you have wanted personal protection? But something else is happening here in the lives of the disciples. As they are being filled with the Holy Spirit they are not only receiving power, but they are being transformed. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives they are being united to God, and the very nature of God is filling every part of their being. No longer are they thinking like themselves, but they are taking on the very mind of Christ and now his desires become their desires. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Their “enemies” are the “lost.” There is a shift in their thinking and no longer are they concerned about their own fate, but they are concerned for the fate of their enemies. Now, they want to speak with boldness in response to the threats.
God answered their prayer because their prayer came from the depths of a personal relationship with God. The people had been willing to tarry in prayer until the Holy Spirit had infused every part of their being. When God’s heart becomes our heart; when his desires become our desires; then his transformational work is being done in our lives and our responses become his responses to the challenges of life.
So often people emphasize the presence of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and its accompanying signs and wonders. We think it’s more exciting to think about the signs and wonders and what those might look like in our lives than to focus on this infilling of the Holy Spirit. We don’t like to think about facing our adversaries with boldness. Maybe we ought to take a harder look at this prayer meeting and the way in which the disciples were becoming more like Christ and their love for their enemies gave them a boldness to go into the world, sharing Jesus with those who would seek to harm them. This same Holy Spirit is available to us today — and challenges us to pray to speak with boldness.
Lord, may I speak with boldness today. Amen.