A PRAYER OF EXPECTATION, TRUST, AND POWER [ACTS 4:23-31]
How would you react after being hauled before the authorities and threatened because of your faith in Christ? Would you speak out loudly against their hardness of heart? Would you complain about the injustice done to you? Would you seek revenge? Or, would you seek out your sisters and brothers and pray with them? This is what Peter and John did, and their prayer was one of expectation, trust, and power.
In this prayer, we glimpse into the disciples’ hearts as they faced hardship for the sake of the Gospel. Despite the persecution and the threat of more severe reprisals, they were determined to obey the Lord and proclaim the Good News. Rather than taking their difficulties as a sign that they should stop, they came to a prophetic understanding of their situation through scripture, and they drew confidence that God was indeed with them.
Because of their humble trust and confidence in the Lord, the disciples had the courage to ask God to continue pouring out signs and wonders in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:30) – signs and wonders that would only get them into deeper trouble! But they knew that God wanted to reveal Himself through them, and so they trusted in Him and asked for an increase in power.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor in Germany who was arrested – and ultimately executed – for taking a stand against Hitler’s regime, is a modern example of one whose trust in the Lord enabled him to face persecution with patience and faith. A few months before his execution, he described his disposition in a letter to a close friend: “My past life is brim-full of God’s goodness, and my sins are covered by the forgiving love of Christ crucified. I’m most thankful for the people I have met, and I only hope that they never have to grieve about me, but that they too, will always be certain of, and thankful for, God’s mercy and forgiveness. (Letter to Eberhard Bethge, August 23, 1944)
Jakarta, 28 April 2014
A Christian Pilgrim