It’s striking to me how much of my prayer life is spent praying to get me out of uncomfortable situations. Whether at work, at church, financially, in health – I spend much time petitioning the Lord to change my circumstances. To make them more favorable. More profitable. More… comfortable, I guess.
Acts 4 hits me like a ballbat to the face.
Here’s the context: Peter and John, the two big dogs of the early church movement, have been put in jail. And though the authorities couldn’t punish them because of their popularity with the people, they threatened them. Alot. Then they let them go.
So off go Peter and John, back to the fledgling church, and they deliver a report about what the bad guys had said. Then they all started to pray with one voice. And I wonder what I might have prayed, had I been in that situation:
“God, deliver us from the hands of these oppressors.”
“Remove them from power, and put someone in who is more favorable to our position.”
“Change these threatening circumstances, and give us peace that we might meet freely.”
Now I’m not trying to evaluate the validity of any of those prayers. I believe God wants us to earnestly cry out to Him in honesty, and there are certainly examples all over the Bible of people asking for their circumstances to change.
But not here. Instead, this is what we get from the threatened crowd of believers:
“And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness…”
Boldness, not deliverance. Extension of the gospel, not a change in circumstances. Courage, not comfort. Maybe I ought to spend a little more time praying for that type of thing rather than a band-aid for my perceived problems. Because if I did, it would show that I had a much more full grasp of how big and important the gospel really is.
That it’s bigger than me. And because it is, sometimes the best thing that can happen is for me to be uncomfortable.