The Prayer for Boldness Part 3
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“Enable your servants … great boldness.” Jesus promised his disciples, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Luke 21.15). They were praying here that God would help them rise above self. Their request was simple: they asked only that He would grant them courage to preach his word in “great boldness,” courage to testify for Jesus. Thus they prayed for the continuance of that very activity which had produced the hostility. At the Beautiful Gate, they had spoken the Word with boldness, and God had stretched out His hand and healed the man; and all the hostility had come out of those facts. Now they prayed, and in effect, they said: God help us to keep on in spite of everything, to do that which has produced the threatening. They had been told not to speak the Name again, but they flung caution aside. To the Sanhedrin, Peter had said: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye.” Now, in the secret place, these courageous men came into the presence of God in Whom they believed, and they had only one thing to ask Him, that they might still speak the Word of God with “boldness,” while He stretched forth His hand to heal.
I am moved by this. This was a great prayer and praise service. They were all of one accord. Probably they did not all pray at one time, but they were certainly “amen-ing” the one who led in prayer.
30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
The apostles not only asked God to give them boldness to preach the word; they also asked that He continue to work miracles through them, and by those miracles give divine evidence of the truth of what they said in the name of Jesus. This was the deepest desire of their hearts—and men who have such a conviction always have such a desire. Men who know such a God and such a Jesus are always men who supremely desire—not to escape from suffering, not to be spared all the work and the struggle of proclaiming Christ—but that His name would be vindicated and glorified by perpetual victory, and therefore that they be kept bold in their preaching. “How shall we escape , if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; GOD ALSO BEARING THEM WITNESS, BOTH WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS, AND WITH DIVERS MIRACLES, AND GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST, ACCORDING TO HIS OWN WILL?” (Heb. 2.3, 4).
You will notice they did not pray for God to preserve their lives or keep them from suffering and danger. They were wholeheartedly committed to the work Jesus had given them to do, and they confidently committed themselves to God. The one desire of their heart was to promote the gospel, declaring the truth, and making the way of salvation known. They prayed that God would glorify Himself by continuing to give miracles, signs, and wonders, and by saving those who heard the message of His saving grace.
These praying men impress us with their consistency. “Consistency” is a great word, but we have misused it. Some people think that to be consistent means that the same thing is said yesterday, today, and forever. But a great consistency may make a man deny today what he said yesterday, because he finds out what he said yesterday is not true. To be consistent means to be possessed and mastered by one principle. Because these men were possessed and mastered by Christ, they were strong. They were cautious also.
31 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.
The answer to the prayer came immediately. The first thing that happened, was that God gave them a sign. The mighty “shaking” of the place where they were assembled assured these believers that the God of all nature to whom they had appealed in verse 24 had heard their prayers and was in their presence. The Greek word translated “was shaken” denotes violent agitation such as the raging of the sea, the tremors of a great earthquake, or trees being shaken by a mighty wind. What awesome power that our God possesses, to be able to shake the earth!
• “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken” (Acts 16.26).
• “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven” (Heb. 12.26).
The Scripture does not tell us if this shaking was confined to the place where the Christians were praying, or if it was widespread. I am inclined to think it was only the place where the saints were assembled and praying, and to them, it was evident that God had heard their prayers.
To the Jews, a shaking of the earth—an earthquake—was proof of the presence of Jehovah God. In Isaiah 29.6 we read, “Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire” (Isa. 29.6).
When Jesus died on the Cross, God sent an earthquake; and Matthew 27.54 tells us that “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” In connection with this, please read the third chapter of Habakkuk. Notice in particular verses 6 through 11, which give a depiction of the awesome power of the Almighty God: “He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.” As in Old Testament times, God made His power and presence known to His people by shaking the place where they were assembled in prayer.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” The apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This was not another baptism, but a “filling” for power to declare the Word of God. We noticed in verse 8 that Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost when he addressed the Sanhedrin. Personally, I believe the filling at this time was meant to prevent the development of emerging fear. They feared, and there was granted to them a new conscientiousness of the inrush of the Spirit. These men were filled with a new consciousness and a new actuality of the presence and the power of the Spirit; with the result that they went out and spoke the Word of God with “boldness.” There is one baptism of the Spirit, but there are many fillings. When empowered by the Spirit, “they… spoke the word of God boldly.”
In proportion as we are submitted to God, and wait in prayer upon Him, there will come to us that inflow of the Spirit, which will make us bold to proclaim Christ. And great results may and must follow where the church is thus convinced and Spirit-filled.