The other day, I had the evening news on. The kids were home, so the evening news on the TV is worse than not having the TV on. Abbie, our oldest, asks, “Why do you watch the news?” There are a lot of potential answers:
- To stay up-to-date with what is happening in the world.
- Because I don’t have enough negativity in my life
But the answer I gave Abbie was this: I watch the news so I know how to pray and who to pray for. Just then, a story about the recent earthquake in Nepal came on and we discussed how to pray: for the families of those who died, for the rescue workers, for the aid that would be arriving, and so on. We could watch the stories about the protest in Baltimore and pray for the safety of the law enforcement men and woman as well as the protestors. We could pray that those acting in violence would be filled with a peace that passes all understanding. We can pray that those experiencing injustice, racism, poverty would experience justice, reconciliation and provision.
The early church, when they heard Peter and John’s story of what happened fell on their knees and prayed. They did not, however, pray for safety in the midst of persecution. Instead, they prayed for boldness.
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servant to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30
The early church prayed for boldness. The boldness to speak. The boldness to withstand persecution. The boldness to asked God to perform signs and wonders in order to point people to Jesus. As we live in a world with great unrest and injustice, we must follow the lead of the early church and pray for boldness. We must pray for the boldness to
- Listen- It takes boldness to listen- especially to those who are different than us. We must listen to others in order to seek understanding. In understanding we can properly advocate and act in concert with our brothers and sisters in need. I overheard a guy say, “I haven’t been following the events in Baltimore on TV” and then he proceeded to talk to his conversation partner for nearly 10 minutes on what he thought was the problem in Baltimore. When we listen, and put faces and names to the problems over the world, we realize that we can no longer rely on simplistic answers as these problems are very complex and nuanced. We must listen to those around us. This takes boldness to listen because our first inclination is often to speak.
- Once we listen, to God and to others, then the Spirit empowers us to SPEAK. But what the Spirit empowers us to speak is not our opinion on a matter. When we listen and understand, the Spirit empowers us to speak the word of God. We speak life, hope, and grace. We speak the name of the resurrected Jesus as the only hope for the world. We speak out against injustice and oppression and we speak up for the voiceless in our society. Most importantly, we are to tell people about redemption and reconcilliaation through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
- Pray for the Boldness to ACT: After this time of prayer, Luke records that the early believers were United; shared everything so there was no one in need, and tells us about Barnabas- whose name means encourager. The disciples acted by continuing to be united in their thinking. The acted by pooling their resources to care for the most vulnerable in their communities. This action led to Luke being able to write that there was no one in need! Barnabas sold a field and gave the money to the Apostles to use as they saw fit and led Barnabas to be called the “Son of Encouragement.” Do your actions encourage others? Do they help others consider God’s love for them? How is God calling you to act in regards to the needs of the world?
We live at an intersection of the past, the present, and the future. The past creates the conditions we live in today. We live in the consequences of our ancestors actions and our own. The past creates the circumstances of today. How we choose to live today, in the midst of those circumstances creates all of our tomorrows. Sometimes this intersection of time can leave us uneasy and even fearful. The events of life should not cause fear, but should focus our prayers. As our prayers come into focus, the Holy Spirit calls us to listen, to speak, and to act with the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ.