27 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy [t]servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the [u]Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. 29 And [v]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 [w]signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy [x]servant Jesus.” 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.
It's incredible, isn't it? So early on in their ministry and Peter and John are already experiencing threats from the leaders of the day. But what is more incredible is the peoples' response.
Imagining being amongst these people, I could hear our voices 'with one accord', as we read in verse 24, but I hear us praying a different prayer. I can almost hear the echo of us, with one voice, crying out, 'O LORD, take it away...make these awful experiences flee from us! We can no longer take this opposition. Please take it away!' But that is not what we read, is it? And because that is not what we read, I think we would all do well to listen very closely for the lesson of this incredible prayer.
Note that Peter and John, after being released, made their way back to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them (vs. 23). I think this is significant on a number of levels, but the most important, in my mind, is that they desired to be with 'their own' for companionship. I think far too often in ministry, we see it as a 'lone soldier' work-place, but I have not read that model in Scripture. In fact, I have seen far too many places where we have been called to go out together (esp. Jesus' calling out the 72 - see Luke 10:1ff). And so, it is because of this, I believe Peter and John had returned to their own for comfort - and what comfort they received!
Read through this prayer again of the people and you will notice that they knew every detail of what Peter and John experienced. Not at any time could Peter and John say they didn't understand. These people clearly knew what was happening, yet notice the theme of their prayer. In verse 29, they called on the LORD to take note of their threats but, as I eluded before, they did not ask the LORD to take the threats away, as we are so prone to do; they actually prayed for a perspective shift. These Godly people prayed that in the circumstances that Peter and John found themselves in, not in spite of, but because of these threats, they asked that they would speak with more confidence! I cannot help but stop and reflect on this. They went on to pray that they believed that the LORD could continue to extend His hand to heal (the very thing that got the Apostles in trouble in the first place) in the Name of Jesus. Incredible! What was the outcome? 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 (vs. 31).
May we dare to pray these kinds of prayers - not asking the LORD to take the difficulty away, but through them, become even more bold for the purposes of many knowing the Saviour.