Fresh, passionate and urgent prayer
In Acts 4, the Christians are living in a fresh experience of Christ. Some have seen the risen Lord and the day of Pentecost is fresh in their minds.
Most are recent converts, ‘first generation’ Christians. Their lives have been freshly and wonderfully transformed by a living and active God. A remarkable miracle has taken place at the beautiful gate of the temple.
The wonder of the gospel is fresh and burning in their hearts and they felt passionately that nothing should hinder the spread of the gospel, not even the formidable persecution and threats of the Jewish authorities.
So they prayed, ‘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’ (vv. 30-31).
God was a living God to them and they confidently expected great things from him. But our situation is very different. Generally speaking, we see few converts and most in our churches are at least ‘second generation’ Christians.
Before conversion, they have grown up under the wise and protective influence of Christian parents and youth leaders; many haven’t personally experienced the depths of desolate emptiness and brokenness of life without Christ.
For many years at my church in Pontefract, with regular conversions, the majority of us were both recent converts and ‘first generation’ Christians. In that atmosphere confidence in God and expectation that he would save the hardest sinners was running high.
Being ‘first generation’ Christians, nearly all our families and friends were unconverted. When the majority in a church are like that, and have been recently and powerfully delivered from utter hopelessness and despair, they feel more passionately the lostness of the unsaved, especially their own loved ones. And this adds a rugged reality, feeling and pleading to their praying.
But today our praying (like much of our preaching) is often sanitised, clinical and safe. Most of us are perhaps too distant from the pain of being lost and the serious prospect of hell.
Clearly, of ourselves, we are lacking the infectious freshness and felt urgency which so often characterises new converts and drives them to their knees.
If you have had the privilege of a Christian upbringing and of being saved when young, you can never regret that. But you may find it doubly necessary to go to God to keep alive your spiritual freshness, your heartfelt passion for lost, hell-bound people and an almost desperate urgency to reach them with the gospel.
I believe it is only with fresh supplies of the Holy Spirit that we can keep spiritually vital and urgent. The old Methodists looked frequently for fresh supplies of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They knew that without this they would quickly grow lukewarm.
We must safeguard our personal walk with the Lord and seek him to refresh our joy and love, passion and compassion for the lost, and love and zeal for the gospel.
The Christians in Acts prayed, ‘Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness’. Their mighty prayer flowed from spiritual freshness and gospel urgency. Our praying needs this today.