Prayer: Boldness

Prayer: Boldness

This morning, we’re continuing our journey through prayer.  Prayer is simply communicating with God.

God hears us when we pray.  Even if our prayers are just within our hearts and minds, God hears our prayers.  We clearly see evidence of this in 1 Samuel 1 with Hannah as God answered the prayer that she prayed in her heart without speaking an audible word.

God hears us when we pray alone.  Jesus was often seen going off by Himself to pray.  He also taught us to do so as well.

Matthew 6:5-8

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Notice that Jesus didn’t teach that the hypocrite was a hypocrite because they were praying out loud.  They were a hypocrite because they loved to be seen by others.  Their motive for prayer was self-seeking, prideful, and boastful.  They were putting on a show for others and seeking their attention.  They weren’t praying to seek God.  That is why it was a hypocritical way to pray.

There are times to pray alone in secret behind closed doors.  There is also a time to join together in unified prayer!  There is something powerful when God’s people come together and pray. 

We see this on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on that group of 120 who were gathered in the upper room praying together.  We see this when Peter was imprisoned for sharing the gospel as the church prayed throughout the night and an angel released him.

One of my favorite accounts was shortly after the day of Pentecost right after Peter and John healed a beggar who had been lame from birth on their way to church.  Everyone knew this man and when they saw him jumping around praising God, they were all amazed and filled with wonder at this sign.  The religious people were so threatened by it that they imprisoned Peter and John and questioned them about what power or name they used to heal the man.

Acts 4:8-31

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,

    which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage 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. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

The Believers Pray

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage

    and the peoples plot in vain?

26 The kings of the earth rise up

    and the rulers band together

against the Lord

    and against his anointed one.’

(Psalm 2 then goes on to say “The One enthroned in heaven laughs”)

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The church raised their voices in prayer together asking for God to enable them to speak His word with boldness.  The church raised their voices in prayer together asking God to heal and to perform signs and wonders in Jesus’ name.  God got pretty excited about this, shook the place and filled them with the Holy Spirit AGAIN!

They didn’t whine and complain to God about how unfairly they were being treated.  They didn’t lament about the bullying of the religious leaders.  They didn’t plead for God’s protection and safety.  They were reckless and self-abandoned and free!!!

They knew that none of this was about them.  The nations were raging, people were plotting, kings were rising up, rulers were banding together to stop them.  However, it wasn’t really them, it was against Jesus whom they were ambassadors for.  It wasn’t about them, it was all about Jesus!

Previously, when Jesus sent out the 72 disciples in pairs ahead of Him into every town that He planned to go to, He reminded them:

Luke 10:16

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

When it comes to the good news about Jesus and matters regarding the Kingdom of God, don’t take things personally.  People are not either accepting or rejecting you, they are either accepting or rejecting Jesus.  Even in the midst of rejection and flogging and threats to their life, how did the church respond?  What did they pray for?

They prayed for boldness in the face of danger.

They prayed for more healings.

They prayed for more signs and wonders.

They prayed for the name of Jesus to be made known!

Nothing emboldens us more than when we know that we are right before God.  When we know that He is for us, that nothing stands between us, then we don’t pay much attention to who may be against us or what opposition is rising up in an attempt to oppress us.

Proverbs 28:1 (NKJV)

The wicked flee when no one pursues,

But the righteous are bold as a lion.

When God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, it says that:

Exodus 14:8b (NKJV)

… the children of Israel went out with boldness.

Saul passionately tried to stop the church from sharing about Jesus and who approved of the martyring of Stephen and knew full well the high cost of being a disciple of Jesus.  When He had an encounter with the resurrected Jesus and was sent by Him to share the good news about His salvation to the gentiles, a whole new and different boldness filled his life!  In fact, the scriptures use this word often to describe His faith in Jesus after that encounter.

Acts 9:28

So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

Acts 13:46

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

Acts 14:3

So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.

Acts 18:26

He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

Acts 19:8

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.

Acts 28:31

He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

Romans 15:15

Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me

2 Corinthians 3:12

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

Regardless of our personality type, whether we are introverts or extroverts, there is a boldness that rises up within us.  It may manifest itself differently, but when the Holy Spirit fills our lives, there is little room for fear.  There is a bold confidence knowing that we are living rightly before the Lord and doing what He is calling us to do.

It’s not a boldness of our own, it originates from God.  For this reason, it comes with His glory and leads to Him being glorified.

2 Corinthians 3:4-18

4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The Greater Glory of the New Covenant

7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

Notice that our boldness doesn’t come from having arrived at some great place in our spiritual journey and faith.  Our boldness doesn’t come from having received great things from God.  Our boldness comes from hope.  It comes from a living hope within us.

Hope brings about boldness.  It gives us a boldness to stand in the face of opposition and declare that God’s promise is about to defeat it.  It gives us a boldness to laugh at bad news and to prophesy to it what God has already said about it.  Hope enables us to live in this world while also being seated in heavenly places.  It is the anchor that keeps us heavenly-focused while living out our earthly lives.

Hebrews 6:13-20

13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Hope anchors our soul’s focus toward Heaven straight into the Holy of Holies; the very throne room of God.  That changes us!

2 Corinthians 3:4-18 cont.

13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

There is FREEDOM where the Spirit of the Lord is!  Freedom that transcends any earthly oppression.  Freedom for our souls that exists no matter what our natural circumstances might be.  We can boldly be who Christ calls us to be no matter what.  When Paul spent years in a prison, he used it as an international ministry headquarter overseeing many churches and missionary efforts.  He evangelized to his guards and lead many to Jesus. 

Let’s learn from the example of the early church through whom daily people were being saved and healing and signs and miracles were commonplace!  Let’s pray as they prayed!

They prayed for boldness in the face of danger.

They prayed for more healings.

They prayed for more signs and wonders.

They prayed for the name of Jesus to be made known!