“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”
It had not been long since their leader had been executed. Jerusalem, filled with hostile officials under the auspices of a ruthless Roman army, was dangerous soil for the fledgling group of Christ’s followers. After all, if they did not hesitate to kill Jesus, would they be shy about killing His followers? Danger lurked everywhere.
And now the young church had just heard the news: Peter and John had been arrested and threatened. What would happen next? Naturally, the Christians gather to pray. They begin their prayer by acknowledging God’s greatness, by quoting Psalm 2, and by confessing God’s sovereignty. Now they come to petition.
What will they ask? Most of us would be asking for protection, for life, for safety, for deliverance. And those are good and acceptable things to ask for. There are many examples in Scripture. But the focus of the young church is elsewhere.
Their request? “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” Not a word about their safety, at least not recorded in Scripture. They were so intent on the gospel. They were so focused on the kingdom. They were so preoccupied with reaching lost people.
There is nothing wrong with asking for safety, nothing at all. Indeed, many times this is the proper expression of reliance on God. David does it all through the Psalms. But what an example in Acts 4 of God-centered prayer. These Jesus-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered believers were so preoccupied with the kingdom of Jesus that this was the natural way they prayed: “Lord, advance the kingdom. Lord, give us boldness. Lord, save these dear people.”
I imagine that the closer I get to God, the more my prayers will be focused on Jesus, not me.