Praying for Boldness...GULP.

Photo courtesy of rforkel
This past Sunday Andrea and I planned to go to the 10:00am service at our church rather than the 8:30am service that we normally attend. This allowed us the opportunity to watch Andy Stanley preach during the "In Touch Ministries" broadcast on TV. On this particular day he was preaching out of the book of Acts, specifically 4:29 where the disciples pray;

And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that your bond-servants may speak Your word with all boldness.

If you want to watch the entire sermon, and I highly recommend it, you can find it here. What really stood out to me hit me between the eyes was Stanley's point that these early followers of Christ prayed for "boldness," and they got it. This has nothing to do with how God answers prayer. It has everything to do with what the disciples prayed for. Things only got worse for me when he began to explain how we typically pray in our culture. He says it often sounds like this, "Lord, I just want to lift up all the sick people and please keep us safe." Guilty.

The point he was making is that our prayers are all too often a far cry from asking God to make us bold so that we can go out and preach the Gospel. I don't want to spend too much time re-delivering Stanley's sermon because that is not the end game here but I do want to say that asking for boldness is a dangerous prayer. It got all twelve of the disciples beaten to within an inch of their lives (see Acts 5:40) and we know from history that most of them died cruel deaths because they were bold for Christ.

What I believe Andy Stanley was calling for is a shift in our prayer lives. There is no doubt that the Bible tells us that we should take our own petitions before the Lord and that we should offer intercession for the sick and ailing. However, there is much more to it than that and the fact of the matter is that people's souls are hanging in the balance. The bottom line is that I/we don't pray for boldness because it will lead to discomfort in our lives. I was reading just yesterday, and forgive me because I don't remember where, about a woman who was a missionary with her husband. He was killed in a bombing along with several other missionaries and she was severely wounded. When interviewed about the matter she explained that carrying scars and injuries in her body was the least she could do for the Savior who suffered so much on her behalf. She and the other missionaries were bold for Christ and now she will live with a degree of discomfort, both physically and emotionally, that most of us can scarcely imagine. Understand this; if we are bold for Christ we will not be popular and we may lose some friends but we have to decide which is more important.

Now, along with the missionaries that I just mentioned there are millions of Christians throughout the world that are living in nations that are hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you want to find out more about the persecuted Church in the world I would encourage you to visit , the website of The Voice of the Martyrs. You can read stories there of bold believers throughout the world who risk everything to share Christ with others. Being involved with VOM through receiving their newsletters and yearly reports has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life and it also gives us points to focus on in our prayers of intercession.

What I have found as I reflect on my prayers for persecuted believers is that almost everyday I pray that God would make them bold witnesses for Christ. After watching Stanley's sermon I have had to shift that prayer significantly. I would submit that our brothers and sisters throughout the world are bold in their witness and it is we who need to pray the prayer of the disciples from Acts 4:29 for ourselves. I believe we need to take our own prayers about safety and protection and offer them to God on behalf of those facing persecution. Generally speaking we don't need safety. We already live in one of, if not THE, safest countries in the world and yet many of my own neighbors have no idea that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Shame on me. I should be praying, "Lord, please give your bold followers in __________ protection and safety as they proclaim your Gospel to the people around them and give me boldness to share it with the people around me." Heck, we should send them a newsletter and ask them to pray that we would unashamedly share Christ the way they do and tell them that we will be praying that God would build a hedge of protection around them.

Now, I certainly do not want to put any group of believers up on a pedestal and insinuate that they are somehow "perfect Christians." We know that none of us are perfect and all Christians should be more aware of that than anyone. However, they have got something right that I think we miss, their priorities. We have been lulled into complacency and comfort because of our privilege of freedom and we've bought into the idea that talking about religion and politics is taboo in polite society. Well guess what. With eternity on the horizon of every person on earth being polite should not be our overriding priority. I'm not suggesting that we be rude or verbally abuse people but if we share the love of God with others it won't be. Jesus was bold in His presentation of the truth while at the same time being the most loving and compassionate person to ever walk the face of the earth, and He is our ultimate example!

So where do we go from here? I hope that it is fairly evident. We should take seriously the suffering of our brothers and sisters who live in persecution. We should take our prayers for safety and well-being and offer them to God on their behalf. We should also make the prayer of the disciples our own.

And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that I may speak Your word with all confidence. 

Listen to the result of their prayer in verse 31;

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.

That, dear friends, could be us.



Charlanne said…
AWESOME challenge, my dearest son! Thank you!!!
Thanks, dearest mother. I can always count on good comments from you!

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