Do you ever wonder how you should pray when you face a problem? Life is certainly filled with adversity, and as people of faith we are compelled to take those problems to God by way of prayer. Acts 4:24-30 contains the content of the prayer that Peter and his cohort prayed in response to the persecution that broke out following the healing of the lame man. While their problem specifically involved religious persecution, I think the prayer itself offers a very helpful blueprint on how to address God with our challenges.
The first thing the disciples did in prayer was acknowledge the sovereignty of God. “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them—you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, you servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’ In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will” (Acts 4:24-28, NLT). Notice in those verses that they confessed their belief that God was in control and on his throne. God had foreknown this event and was not caught by surprise.
The second thing they did in prayer was to hand the problem over to God. Acts 4:29 continues, “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word.” The disciples realized that the opposition they were facing was nothing personal. The opposition was to the gospel. Therefore, the problem was God’s, not theirs. Their job was to be faithful, and God’s job was to handle the challenges that accompanied the task at hand.
Finally, they claimed the promises of God. In verse 30 they conclude their prayer by asking God to “stretch our your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Every time we face a problem we face a choice between conventional wisdom and faith. Faith is simply behaving in ways that are consistent with what God has said. The disciples prayed that God would do what he promised to do in order to advance the gospel. What God had said was more important than what the officials had said.
Next time you take time to pray about a problem, remember the template of Acts 4. Begin by acknowledging the sovereignty of God. Then give the problem to God, and make the choice to live by faith and not by sight.