Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Going boldly

It wasn't a prayer I'd have expected. After Peter and John were arrested- and released - by the religious leaders in Jerusalem for preaching about Jesus, they joined with fellow believers in prayer.

But their prayer wasn't for protection or safety or comfort. Here's part of their prayer: "consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." (Acts 4:29)

These early believers asked differently than we often ask for in our prayer requests. We seek comfort and safety but they asked God for great boldness and confidence.

Although I've given occasional reports about the persecuted believers in Orissa, India, I've been tempted to pray for protection and safety for them. Make the persecution go away and give them comfortable lives. That's what I'd like for them but these believers in the book of Acts challenge me.

So I've prayed for great boldness.

But then the lens swings around, as it always does, to my own life. Ugh. Do I really want to ask for boldness for myself?

Now this is getting close to meddling. How easily I worship comfort and safety and luxury.

"Beware of squatting lazily before God instead of putting up a glorious fight so that you may lay hold of His strength." Oswald Chamber's admonishment makes me squirm. Sometimes I only want to lie on the spiritual couch and eat spiritual bon-bons. I don't want to fight any glorious fight if it means living in the woods like the believers in Orissa. But when I walk along that line, I find the fire in my heart thins and my passion chills.

There's no time in the world for such laziness and I yearn for the fiery passion of those early believers. The glorious fight stokes the fires and it reaches across the distance between the Lord and myself.

I do want to fight and I am praying for boldness. Not just for believers in Orissa and beyond, but here, too, where the temptation to squat lazily before God is so powerful.

"When they saw the courage [boldness] of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.(Acts 4:13)

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