“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31)
The disciples reaction to Peter and John spending a night in jail and being threatened by the Jewish council to quit speaking about Jesus is inspiring. Upon hearing threats from the same group that just weeks earlier crucified the Messiah, Peter boldly proclaims that they will follow God and not the advice of the counsel. After being released, Peter and John join the other apostles to spend time in prayer about the situation. However, they don’t pray for protection or safety. Instead, they pray for boldness. Soverign LORD, give us the courage to proclaim your message with boldness, even in the face of persecution. They pray with such fervor, that after they are finished the walls of the home they are praying in begin to shake. Then, filled with the Holy Spirit, they set out to share the name of Jesus with the rest of the world. At the time, there are about 5000 fellow believers. By the end of their lifetime, the good news of Jesus has been shared in every major city in the known world, including the very heart of Rome. Imagine, at the very gates of Caesar’s palace there are believers who will dare to proclaim not Caesar is lord, but Jesus is Lord! The Holy Spirit did what no believer thought was possible, and it started with prayer.
As I think about this narrative I must confess, I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to pray so fervently that I could feel the walls shake. And as I think about this narrative I must confess, I want to feel the wall shake. I want to pray with such boldness that I feel the walls shake. I want to pray so fervently for God to do something that only God can do to the point that God shows up and creates revival. I want to constantly be praying for the Holy Spirit to change my own heart, and to change the hearts of others, so that more individuals come to put their faith in Jesus as LORD. I want to pray for boldness, courage, and faith, that the name of God will be proclaimed through the lives and the hearts of God’s people to such an extreme that the world knows Jesus is alive.
I pray often, and I’ve seen God work. I know there are times when God has answered prayers in my own life, and in the lives of friends and family. I know there have even been times when God has done more than I could imagine. Yet, I wonder if there is more. I wonder if I/We are only scratching the surface of what God can do in the world. Not that God is dependent on us to act, and not that God will only act in the ways we desire, but I wonder if the reason I’ve never seen the walls shake is because my own lack of faith, or lack of practice. I know prayer is important, and I spend time daily in prayer, but I’ve started to be convinced that I need to pray more. I’ve being convicted that the Holy Spirit can do more in my own life, and in the life of the church, than I could ever hope for or imagine. While I can’t make that happen, what I can do is pray for the Spirit to send revival. I’ve become convinced that prayer needs to be our first, and most often response, and that my own prayers need to change from simply asking for God to do something for us, to asking the Spirit to proclaim God’s name as holy among the nations.
I can’t make God work. I’m fully aware that I have no control over the Holy Spirit, and ultimately God will do what God wants to do. I can’t create a magic formula that causes God to show up and do something amazing. There is no program, no worship style, and no creative space that somehow guarantees or requires God to show up and act in a certain way. God is in charge and I am not.
However, while I can’t force God to bring about revival, I can pray for revival. I can try to speak with more boldness. I can focus more on sharing my faith. I can find more opportunities to serve my community, encourage my coworkers, and love my neighbors. I can’t force God to bring about revival, but I can pray. I can pray for revival daily. I can pray for God to send the Spirit to create revival in my own heart, and in the church. I can pray for God to send the Spirit to empower us to boldly proclaim our faith in God to the world. I can pray not just once but over and over again for God to do what only God can do. I can pray with confidence, and with boldness for God to bring about revival. And I will continue to pray, until the walls shake.