Scripture - Acts 4:24 - When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.
Theme - Prayer
Devotion - The first thing Peter and John do upon their release from the authorities is to return to the congregation of Jesus followers and together, they pray. When we look carefully at the prayer we notice that it is an act of connecting the experience that Peter and John just had to the death and resurrection of Jesus as well as to God's ongoing relationship with the world.
First the congregations proclaims the power and authority of God and recall that they serve an authority that created and continues to create life. Having just faced an implicit death threat they tell the story of an authority, greater than all others, because it bestows life. Next the congregation recites a psalm as they pray. Together they recite Psalm 2 which is a story about the rebellion of the worlds rulers against the will and way of God. Specifically the psalm syas that the rulers of the nations resist God's anointed one, God's messiah. What Peter and John and the congregations have just experienced is nothing new. David sang about the rebellion of the worlds political leaders, Jesus experienced that same violent rebellion and now the church experiences it as well. This early portrait of the church reveals that they are not surprised when social and political forces resist and constrict those who follow God's ways. They do no expect to be supported or valued, but to face opposition.
Interestingly the close of the prayer is NOT for God to allow the church to avoid the opposition and resistance of the powers and authorities. I suspect this is what I would be praying for. But they do not. Instead, they pray that they be able to maintain a faithful and courageous fidelity to the way of Jesus despite opposition. On the one hand I am grateful that we do not face opposition for living and practicing our faith. On the other, I wonder if we have not dulled the sharp edges of following Jesus in order to not face opposition or threat. What do you think? And if we have dulled the faith to make it more palatable, praying as these disciples did might be more unsettling than comforting. In what way do you think the church could/should pray for boldness?
Prayer - We pray Lord your mercy and forgiveness for the ways your followers throughout have made faith conform to earthly powers and authorities for the sake of comfort. We are also grateful for our experience of receiving your gift of boldness which has enabled us to take risky stands for others. Continue Lord, we pray to give us a courageous faith that is not complacent but bold in living into your reign.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.