Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
The prayer in our text today is an inspiring one. It may seem simple enough on its own, but we must always consider the context in which Scripture is presented to us. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what makes it such an amazing request by the early church to the Lord.
Peter and John had just been released from prison but not without first being threatened by the Jewish rulers that had taken them into custody. The disciples were commanded to not speak nor teach in the name of Jesus again, and this threat was no empty one. It had come from the high priest and the rest of the Sadducees, men that had been instrumental in the death of Christ. At this point, it’s only been a couple of months since the crucifixion, and the scene at Calvary is still very fresh upon the saints’ minds.
When the apostles return to the church to report all the chief priests and elders had said to them, the church begins to pray “with one accord” (Ac 4:24), i.e. with one heart and mind. What unity they display as they receive this news! The first word out of their mouth appears to be a word we see over and over again in the New Testament: “Lord”. However, the fact is that, in this instance, it is not the Greek word translated “Lord” over 600 times in our Bible. The Greek word for “Lord” that they begin their prayer with is only used ten times, and it denotes an absolute ruler. As they address God, they remember that He is in absolute control over all things, including these men that have just threatened their lives!
With that comforting thought in mind, they begin their request. What stands out first of all to me is not what they say but rather what they don’t say. Humanly speaking, these Jewish rulers can bring them before Pilate just like they did Jesus, but in this prayer that spans v. 24-30, you will not find one mention of their personal safety. After they pray, “Now, Lord look on their threats,” we might expect their next words to be, “and don’t let them harm us!” But, you won’t find that sentiment among these who are praying “with one accord.” Their unanimous desire, per our text above, is that they will boldly preach the word of God and that the Lord Jesus would be glorified!
Dear soul, the gospel is being opposed in our day and age as well. With so many who still claim the name of Christ, surprisingly few have an ear for sound doctrine. Should we be surprised? Paul wrote to Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim 4:3-4) The instruction to Timothy is the same to us in such a day: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (v. 2) Will you pray with me that we will be faithful to declare the truth of the gospel regardless of the opposition of men? It is that gospel which holds the hope for men’s souls! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Rom 1:16) May the Lord show Himself mighty in our day as we boldly declare His word for His glory!