by Matt Schroeder
As I have been praying for my walk with Christ to look more like the Christianity I see in the book of Acts, there is a section in chapter 4 that has been the focus of my prayers. Verse 29 and 30 of chapter 4 are the verses I want to see so badly in my life and the lives of Christians around me. I want to be filled with boldness to proclaim the gospel while God stretches out his hand and heals people. I want to be a faithful follower of Jesus, one who is in the game fighting hard for others to experience life in Christ, not one who sits on the sidelines blowing the whistle at other Christians.
Recently, I was at a grocery store buying some snacks for our children’s ministry. As I was standing in line waiting to purchase my items when I noticed something seemed wrong with the lady at the register. She rotated her shoulder in circular motion and said, “man, my shoulder hurts.” I stepped forward as she began scanning my items. She made another comment about her should, “lord, it’s going to be a long day if this shoulder pain keeps up.” Half interested and half trying to be polite, I engaged her comments by asking, “what happened to your shoulder?” She replied, “I don’t know, it’s been hurting ever since I woke up,” as she continued rotating her shoulder. A clear and crisp voice said, “pray healing over her.” I turned around to see what crazy man was standing behind me. No one was there. As I turned back toward the lady at the register, it was clear the voice was God’s Spirit leading me to pray healing over this woman. To the best of my memory I do not believe I actually said this out loud, but certainly said inside my head, “come again! You want me to do what?” The same steady clear voice said, “pray healing over her.” I began to feel a bit uneasy, grabbed my bags, and said to the lady as I walked off, “I hope you start feeling better.”
Looking back on that moment, it’s easy to say I am not proud of how I handled that. I let fear and doubt control me. I know God is good and sovereign over everything, but it was a legitimate opportunity to show the love of Christ. He helped me let go of condemnation the enemy wanted to heap on me for passing the opportunity. So, I want to share a few observations and impressions I have received from the Lord about that experience.
1. If you are praying things that are instep with God’s will, expect Him to answer them! Salvation, healing, the lost being brought in, God’s name being lifted up on high, and our sanctification are all things Scripture clearly points to as God’s will (Acts 4:29-30; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Timothy 2:3-4). So, if we are praying for God to “stretch out your hand and heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant, Jesus,” then we should be ready for him to do just that if he so chooses. I am certainly not saying all we pray for is signs and wonders. The Scripture is clear that all gifts, abilities, sign, and wonders are for the purpose of displaying God’s glory and pointing other’s to Jesus.
What if I had been faithful to follow God’s Spirit and pray healing over that woman right there in the middle of Kroger? Would I have looked like a complete idiot? You bet! But what if God would have healed her shoulder and that caused her to worship God and repent of her sins?!
2. And that leads me to my second observation: we need to pray for boldness much more than we think we do. In verse 29 of Acts 4, the apostles were diligent to pray for boldness to proclaim the gospel. They understood that when you are in the moment of pressure, temptation, and being tested it requires boldness to stand firm in Christ. When religious leaders were beating them and charging them to not speak of the name of Jesus, it required boldness to continue preaching and proclaiming the gospel. Boldness in the face of adversity does not come natural to us as humans. Even Paul said he came to the people in Corinth with fear and much trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3). As Christians we are not left to our own devices to muster up courage and boldness to proclaim Christ. No! The Scripture says, “God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
If I could have that moment back in the grocery store with the lady who had a hurt shoulder, would it be any easier to go right up to her and say, “can I pray for your should?” Probably not. Even thinking about it right now makes me uneasy. But God is calling me to trust and put my faith in him and that often requires boldness.
“Well, Matt what if God didn’t heal that woman? What then?” The short answer would be to tell you I don’t know. But what I do know is that God is calling me to be faithful to the ways He leads and guides. I don’t have the power or ability to heal or save. But there is one thing in this text I want emphasize that makes all the difference.
“Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while YOU (not me) stretch our your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” – Acts 4:29-30
Lord, give us boldness to do your work!