Saturday, November 28, 2009

0 When Persecution Arises, Pray for Boldness Rather than Deliverance

From today's reading, in Acts 4 -

23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and sthe rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants5 to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:23-31, ESV)
This passage is one that oftentimes I'll go to when discussing the fact of God's foreordination of all things, including the evil acts of men... however, today, what struck me was something that Dr. Richard Bacon reminded us of on Covenant Radio when we interviewed him last week. That is, that our normal response to persecution (however great or small) is to pray to God for deliverance from persecution, relief from the taunts, threats and violent actions of the persecutors, or something similar. However, when the Apostles faced imprisonment and possible death, when they were threatened concerning speaking the name of Christ, they did not pray for such relief. Rather, knowing what they had to do, they prayed for boldness.

Would that we had the spirit of these in the early church when facing persecution - violent or otherwise. Rather than shrinking back and wishing eyebrows weren't raised when we claim God's Word as truth, or Christ as the only way, why not pray for holy boldness to continue speaking truthfully? We know what is true - we know what is good - we know what is our duty. Perhaps we ought to consider more carefully how we ought to pray when faced with the derision of the world and the mocking glances of unbelievers. Let us look to those who have gone before us in order to find out a better way.



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