“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
~Acts 4:29-30 (NRSV).
The early church certainly existed in tremulous times, and our world is certainly different, though there are still many unconquered lands to Christ. Many, many thousands of faithful servants serve in hostile territories, doing essentially the same work as those early apostles, but perhaps in less purely evangelistic ways.
This prayer for boldness is prayer for God’s fully-sufficient provision as much as it’s about having the Spirit’s Presence go with them.
Whenever we think about biblical timidity we can quickly turn our gaze upon Timothy—a young, diligent and worthy servant of the Lord, but one equally challenged with excess portions of ‘humility’.
The Apostle Paul is famous for writing to Timothy:
“For this reason [the inheritance of faith] I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us the spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”
~2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NRSV [context added]).
This is, in essence, why the First Century believers are praying for boldness. They’re perfectly equipped in every spiritual sense to live out this boldness, and appropriately so, but then there’s the contention of their flesh to deal with.
The flesh is fearful, whilst the Spirit within is bold. The flesh battles with our spirituality. Like Timothy, we’re often found wanting, especially in weaker moments, and we all have them.
Our Need of Boldness
Without courage what are we? We can easily shrink from the hustle and bustle of life. Just living normally—whatever ‘normal’ is—we’re challenged. And this bar is lifted when we’re supposed to be living this “Spirit-filled” reality. For many that’s just more pressure.
If we don’t have the awareness to pray for boldness per our need then we probably won’t be blessed with it.
Prayer is our jumping-off point. It’s what not only ‘informs’ God of our need (as if God didn’t already know), it helps us self-inform ourselves. “God helps those who help themselves,” is the old and worn cliché. But it’s true.
As we discover the nature and format of our fears, through our truthfully spoken words in prayer, God liberates us as we liberate ourselves.
We must pray for what we need. If we need an appropriate kind of boldness we should seek God for it.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.