Acts 4:28-30 “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Verses 29-30 are justly famous as a magnificent request/response to persecution, but it is actually verse 28 that catches my eye right now. These believers are fully acknowledging the sovereignty of God even as they are asking Him to do specific things. That’s part of the great mystery of prayer. Prayer that doesn’t acknowledge that God is God isn’t going to get very far, but when He is absolutely sovereign, why ask? However, the Bible enjoins us to pray and Jesus tells us specifically that prayers are answered. (Matthew 7:7-8) The whole thing is beyond human understanding, but that’s par for the course! (Isaiah 55:9) It’s a paradox we have to live with, but if we will do as these disciples did, we will get the results they did. We are never to try to manipulate God. That is actually the definition of magic, bending things to our will. That is enormously attractive to our flesh, and some supposedly “Christian prayer” is no more than attempted magic. Prayer that pleases God, that He delights to answer, is fully submitted to Him, in line with His character and will, knowing and trusting that He is more than able to do what is asked, however impossible it might be from a human perspective. Unassisted, we can’t pray like that! However, the Holy Spirit does indeed help us, if we will submit ourselves to Him, just as Paul said. (Romans 8:26) We are to seek God first, and then pray as He directs.
I feel I am very much a learner when it comes to prayer. I would love to be a master at it! That’s one reason I’m deeply grateful for the gift of tongues, because when I pray in tongues I can be confident that my own will isn’t getting in the way of God. I have experienced the Spirit’s guidance in prayer both in English and in Japanese more times than I could count, and I am deeply grateful for that as well. It is always a joy to hear words come from my mouth in prayer that give clarity to the situation being prayed for that I didn’t have before. That’s actually pretty common. However, if I don’t choose to pray, I don’t get that clarity. That’s one of many reasons I am convinced that true prayer is supernatural; it couldn’t really happen from a strictly human standpoint. As a pastor, I desire that everyone in the church learn the joy, the power, the peace of prayer, because those things can really be had no other way.
Father, I guess prayer comes down to fellowship with You, and that makes perfect sense. Help me press in continually for deeper fellowship and lead others to do likewise, so that as good children we will be accurate representatives for You, in the world and to the world, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!