How to Pray in the Face of Threats
by Heather Bock
Don’t miss yet another drawing I have going on this month for a small Bible for preteen girls! Scroll down to the end to see how to enter.
Word spread quickly. Crowds began to gather, some running so as not to miss the amazing sight of the crippled man walking and praising God, healed by the prayer of Peter, who was now preaching near his friend John. It wasn’t long before all this stir caught the attention of those in earthly charge of the Jewish religion of that time and in that place. They weren’t happy to hear Peter’s words and dragged him and John off to jail, but not before 5,000 men believed, not to mention the women and children.
The two were not much hindered by this obstruction and used this as a chance to preach to the rulers and elders of the people, speaking boldly even amidst threats. When they were released, they went to their friends to report all that had happened.
This is where the story made me stop and examine my own heart.
As soon as the friends heard the stories, of course they began to praise God. They remembered God’s words spoken through His prophets long ago that had predicted the kind of opposition they were receiving. Then they prayed, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats…” (Acts 4:29).
How would you have finished this sentence in your prayer to God after powerful leaders threatened you or your friends? These threats were obviously not idle. It wasn’t long before this that these same leaders had been lethally true to their vicious words thrown at Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but I probably would have prayed for heavenly physical protection, that I wouldn’t have to go to the foul jail again, that my life would be spared. In fact, when life seems to go amiss for me or my friends, most of the time I pray that it will all go well again.
God, please help that sweet daughter be well again (and I do always mean “well” in an earthly sense).
God, will You please help my friend’s husband find just the right job for him? (And when I pray “the right job,” I mean one that not only fits his God-given personality perfectly, but also one that will be pleasant, providing a good amount of money.)
God, please bring reconciliation between that husband and wife (often not even considering that maybe one or both of the spouses need that separation to bring them on their knees before God).
I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God for these things. His Word asserts that we have not because we ask not (Jas. 4:2). He has compared Himself with a good Father who gives good gifts to His children when they ask Him (Matt. 7:7-11). He has, in fact, many times given me good on earth when I’ve asked Him.
However, even under threat, these disciples did not pray that all would go well on this earth for themselves. After having asked God to take note of the threats, they prayed “…and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).
They first prayed for courage. Instead of protection, they prayed for more of God’s wonders, which would surely put them right back in the dangerous spotlight. They also prayed for healing for those around them.
Did God grant them their requests? Yes, without a doubt. As soon as they were finished praying, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and immediately began speaking God’s words with boldness. Signs and wonders multiplied, and many began following Jesus.
When they were locked up again, flogged, and barely released from the power of those who intended to kill them, they “went on their way…rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).
May we always remember when we pray to put more emphasis on forgiveness and love than on a renewed relationship, endurance and gratitude than on a better job situation, faith and courage than on healing.
After all, if we abide in Jesus, producing and desiring the fruits of the Spirit that come from being one with Him as the Vine, He promises, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn. 15:7). When we wish for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and other such character traits that Jesus embodies, He will give us this wish.
May we learn from these disciples and pray as they prayed, facing whatever troubles God chooses to give us with joy.
Backpack Bible Giveaway
A month ago I had the opportunity to give away one copy of the NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible, a tiny pink Leathersoft (TM) Bible. I’m glad to say that I get to give away one more copy of it, and if it is claimed in time, it can be sent in time for Christmas!
I wrote a review about it here if you want to know more about it. Although it says “Follow your heart” on the front, I believe we can take that to mean, “Follow Your heart,” as in God’s heart. As long as we follow God’s heart, we will be in the right place.
If you’d like to enter in my drawing for this free Bible (normally retailed at $24.99):
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Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada and are only open to those who have not won from me in the last year.
I will announce the winner on Wednesday, December 6, so look for it! If I don’t hear from the winner within a week, I will draw another name. Thank you!
DISCLOSURE (IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FTC’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING”): MANY THANKS TO BLOGABOUT FOR GIVING ME TWO COPIES OF FAITHGIRLZ BACKPACK BIBLE IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST OPINION.
Brave Beauty Winner
For those who entered the drawing for Brave Beauty last week, you may be wondering who the winner is! Thank you to all those who entered my giveaway. The winner is Christie Murray! Congratulations! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org by December 6 with an address, and I will send you the Bible as soon as possible. If I do not hear from you by then, I will have to redo the drawing. Looking forward to hearing from you!
0 thoughts on “How to Pray in the Face of Threats”
And I LOVE the following verse:
And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Wow, would that have been an experience?
Yes—amazing! I tried to imagine if it was an earthquake or a mighty wind. You know how the Holy Spirit is compared to a wind sometimes. But when I’ve been in earthquakes, it feels like the house has been shaken by a wind anyway!
At any rate, I would love to experience God’s power in this way, knowing it was Him and not just the groanings of the earth!
Thanks for reminding,g us that God’s will isn’t always an easy path, but sometimes is a very difficult one. I have had a lot of tragedy but whenever I start to feel down someone tells me that I have helped them.
Yes, whenever I start to feel discouraged, God encourages me somehow! I’m so thankful for that.
Such good thoughts on that passage, Heather! And convicting, for sure!
Thank you! It’s changing the way I pray.
Good words, Heather. I understand many of those being persecuted in the world today pray these same prayers: for more courage to be bold with sharing the gospel to their enemies, when I would pray to be warm (I hate to be cold), fed, and safe from further attacks. This has always convicted and inspired me.
Yes—this affects how we pray for the persecuted church as well. I’ve thought for a while that praying that they won’t be persecuted might be the wrong prayer. Maybe we should be praying for persecution to come to our own church in America to strengthen it.
The passage you spoke about in Acts reminded me of a promise Jesus gave us in Luke 21:15, a reminder that God is faithful to give us the boldness we need when we face adversity. “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”
Thank you for that reminder! Yes, I remember another place that talks about giving us the words to say. That is very encouraging!
I too have found this passage challenging. It is always our first instinct to pray for protection over courage, comfort over adversity. Oh that we would have a perspective similar to the disciples!
Yes, may we!
Yes, pray for courage! I too often forget.
You’re so right, Heather! We often pray for comfort and convenience instead of courage and confidence. Thank you for this challenge from the Word.
Thank you! The Word challenges me all the time.