Profound Prayer: Acts 4:29-30
“29) And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30) while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31) Acts 4:29-30
These are some of my favorite verses in the book of Acts. The early church faced opposition through prayer. They asked for grace and confidence in speaking the Word while they trusted God step up and confirm their message with His mighty deeds.
As my years in ministry have extended into five decades, my philosophy of ministry has changed. It has gotten much simpler, more biblical, less stressful and more joyous. I now firmly believe that it is my job to tell the story, but it is Gods job to move the mountain. It is my job to share the gospel, but it is Gods job to save people. It is my job to share the vision, but it is Gods job to provide in miraculous ways. It is my job to pray for healing, but it is Gods job to heal people. It is my job to invite people to join us in ministry as supporters or volunteers, it is Gods job to move them to action.
I came to recognize that I am small, but God is big. I am weak, but God is powerful. I am restricted to time and space, but God is omnipresent. I have limited knowledge and strength, but God is infinite in both. I cannot fix people or their circumstances, but God can transform both. I am called to point people to God, but He has to prove to them that He exists, that He cares, that He is powerful and that He invites them into personal relationship with Himself. I stopped trying to play god in peoples lives.
All of this is wrapped up in this simple prayer recorded in Acts 4:29-31. They were asking God for the courage and grace to go on preaching and teaching the Gospel, while leaving the healings, miracles, signs and wonders to Him. They anticipated, expected, believed and trusted that He would not abandon them. In this text, they were accepting their job description to preach and teach while reminding God that His Job description was to extend His hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of Jesus.
This simple formula has been true for Gods servants throughout biblical history. Review Psalms 78:43; Psalm 135:9; Isaiah 8:18; Jeremiah 32:16-22; Daniel 4:3 and Daniel 6:25-27. His servants were called to share His message while He stepped up and confirmed His existence and power.
Actually, times of silence from God and periods of inactivity in the Old Testament were indications of judgement. The way Elijah humiliated the prophets of Baal was through calling fire down from heaven. His God did what their god could not. It should not surprise us that fire came down at Pentecost.
Let’s dig a bit deeper. What was the difference between the ministry of Jesus and the scribes, priests and Pharisees? It came down to the manifestation of the power of God through Him. He performed signs and wonders while they were absolutely impotent.
The same thing happened in the book of Acts. The rulers of Israel had clout, institutional authority and dominion over the people, but zero spiritual power. The lame beggar had sat for years at the gate of the temple under their jurisdiction and they could do nothing to help him. But then one day Peter and John came along in the name of Jesus and everything changed.
God was confirming His anointed leaders. Just like the rod of Moses and Aaron blossomed over night, so the ministry of the apostles was blossoming. (Numbers 17) God was confirming His messengers in extraordinary ways. The contrast between the Sanhedrin and the Apostles was obvious for everyone to see.
This prayer in Acts 4:29-30 was both profound and simple. They were saying; “God, give us the confidence to keep preaching and teaching while You continue to confirm the gospel message with your great signs and wonders.” Another way of saying it might be; “Give us the grace to write the sentences while You add the punctuation marks!”
These two verses have challenged me for years. Early in my ministry, I was a “fix it” pastor. I wanted to help people, but soon realized my strength and resources were tragically limited. I almost burned out! Then God graciously used verses like these to reveal my sin and self sufficiency.
That’s when I developed the motto; “It is my job to tell the story, it is God’s job to move the mountain.” My praying changed. My preaching changed. My faith changed. My focus changed. Instead of trying to explain away these verses, I started aligning myself with the biblical principle taught in Acts 4:29-30. I started seeking God’s grace in fulfilling my calling while trusting Him to fulfill His promises. To my surprise, mountains started moving in extraordinary ways.
It is now up to you to capture the spiritual principle exemplified in this simple but profound prayer. This is where faith meets the power of God. This is where we become co-laborers with Christ.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
Profound Prayer: Acts 4:29-30