The past few days I have been reading in Acts. What a better way to learn about missions than studying the lives of the very first missionaries themselves? In preparation for a short bible lesson I will be giving this weekend, I decided to take one of the key verses that stood out to me in Acts and turn it into a challenge. The challenge is this: Stop praying easy prayers. Let me explain.
I was reading Acts chapter 4 the other day, and as I reached verse 31, I just had to stop. The previous verses had narrarated a prayer by the apostles after they had been thrown into jail and then threatened to stop proclaiming the words of Jesus Christ. The prayer goes like this:
“O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? ‘The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, 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.”
Well, when I made it to the end, I just had to stop because I had been expecting a very important line in the prayer…that wasn’t there! After re-reading it, I paused in awe. After being put in jail and threatened, not once did they pray for safety or protection! Their only request was for confidence in speaking His word, His healing, and for signs and wonders. It hit me that that their chief motive was to win hearts for Jesus and if they had to suffer or die to achieve that goal, it was fine by them. One of the last words Jesus spoke to them before He ascended into heaven was that He would be with them to the end of the earth. They knew that whatever happened, whether suffering or comfort, it was His will, so whether it was His plan for them to go to prison or escape, live or die, they knew they could trust Him. Their example really inspired me to examine my prayers. Is my desire for comfort hindering my opportunity to reach lost people with the Good News of Jesus Christ? So the challenge I have is this: Instead of praying the easy prayer of comfort and safety when sharing the news of Jesus, may I be willing to give up everything for the goal which is more important…the salvation of those who are lost. And when those trials come, may I have the same boldness Peter and John had to say, “We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”