“And now, Lord, take note of their threats and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your work with confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Sprit and began to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4.29-31).
Pray with expectation, not hesitation.
Two disciples, Peter and John, had just experienced the first persecution of this new movement by religious rulers of the day (Acts 4.1-12). However, Peter and John were freed because it was unarguably clear, even to the religious leaders, that an absolute miracle had occurred in their midst. The rulers, elders, and scribes in Jerusalem, the supposed experts on all things religious and spiritual, could not deny it (Acts 4:16). So, Peter and John were released (Acts 4:21). The prayer of the disciples acknowledged the faithfulness of the Creator of all things, the King of Heaven to do what He says He was going to do (Acts 4:24-26). Not even the kings of the earth could stand against this Heavenly King. As a result, their subsequent prayer was bold and confident. The disciples expected that God would give them boldness to speak. The disciples expected that God would continue to perform miracles to glorify Jesus. They prayed with expectation, not hesitation.
Learning to pray with confidence and trust.
Recently, I have become convinced in my own life that I have lacked the courage to pray with expectation. Sometimes it’s because I don’t want to pray a prayer and then when it doesn’t happen, I look like foolish. If I’m honest, it’s because I don’t believe that God can actually do those things He says He will do. Other times, the reason I don’t pray with expectation is because my prayers are really not about what God is doing, but about what I want to do. In other words, I don’t pray because I want God to receive glory in whatever happens. I pray because I want me to get attention, fame, or acknowledgement.
What I am learning is that praying with expectation just means that I pray in confidence that God is the Heavenly King over all creation and He wants to restore every person on earth to Himself. God wants desperately for those who are far from Him to know Him, to be loved by Him, and to love Him. Praying with expectation simply means that I am acknowledge who God is and so entreat Him and no one else. It doesn’t mean that He will give me everything I pray for or want or desire, but if there’s someone that can do anything it’s Him.
The balancing tension on that is that I have to trust in God to do what He knows is good, right, and perfect. I don’t fully understand why He doesn’t do some things and does others. But I must trust that He cares more about His will being done on earth than I do. I am selfish, self-centered, arrogant, and prideful and care more about my will than God’s will. Thank you God for Jesus, who saves me in spite of that!
Pray and then act.
So what the disciples taught me in that prayer was that I can pray with expectation, not hesitation, because He is already redeeming humanity and the world and I just need to open my eyes and participate. Right now, my prayers sound like this:
“God, I hope that my family gets saved. Can you give me opportunities to share?”
“God, can you help the city’s helpless? Can you give me opportunities to serve?”
I am learning to pray with expectation, which means that I hope they sound more like this:
“Father God, as You draw my family near to You, give me the confidence to love them and serve them. When they ask about my life, give me the boldness to make much of You and little of me.”
“Father God, while You continue your redemption of humanity through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, give me eyes to see where I am already positioned to serve those around me. Give me the courage to step up instead of waiting to be asked to help.”
May we be known as a people who pray with expectation, not hesitation. May we be known as a people who desire the name of Jesus to be held up higher than our own name. May we be known as a people who will pursue and participate in God’s redemptive work in our works, homes, cities, schools, and communities with passionate prayer that leads into action.