We are not to assume that Peter and John were not concerned about the threat from the authorities. They had shown great boldness in affirming their determination to continue preaching about Jesus. Yet they also knew that the conflict in which they were engaged was a stage in a spiritual war. The courage that they needed was not the type that would be shown by their fellow countrymen in displays of bravery in war, of which there had been many examples.
There have been and are today many brave men and women who stand up for their convictions. Yet their strength of character is usually a feature of their own personality and does not come from a spiritual relationship with God. In any case, Peter and John knew that they needed to ensure that Christian boldness remained in their outlook. So what did they do?
Luke highlights two responses of Peter and John. These responses can be stated as sharing and supplicating, and both responses are essential elements of biblical prayer. I suppose a question that springs to mind is, why did they pray? To begin with, three suggestions can be made.
First, they would have prayed here because they had already seen the benefits of prayer in the life of the church in Jerusalem – it had begun during a period of ten days of prayer (Acts 1) and after the Day of Pentecost prayer became a crucial concern for the church there (Acts 2:42). It is safe to conclude that prayer in times of spiritual peace prevents collapse in times of spiritual conflict.
Second, they could recall what had happened to them previously when they had attempted to be brave without prayer – their bravado in the Garden of Gethsemane quickly disappeared and they fled away from the scene. Memories of past failures are always incentives to present prayer.
Third, they would have recalled the teaching of Jesus about prayer. His challenges and promises regarding prayer would have come to mind. Those who pray do so because their minds have been saturated with the Word of God.
Tomorrow we will think about what they prayed for.