The first recorded controversy of the early church is found in Acts 3. After healing the lame man on Solomon’s Porch, Peter preached the gospel to the crowd that had gathered and many obeyed. Unsurprisingly, the event caught the attention of the Jewish leaders, who arrested Peter and John. How did the church react to this challenge? Acts 4:23-31 tells us that they prayed.
- They prayed together (v. 24a). Peter and John “went to their own companions” and they “raised their voice to God with one accord.” Truly, the early church understood the importance of being unified in all things but especially in a time of crisis. Does the church today still place the same value on unity and come together through turmoil?
- They appealed to God’s power (v. 24b). In prayer the church addressed God “who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them.” They knew that in approaching their Heavenly Father they were also approaching the Creator and Sustainer of the universe–He who holds the power of life in His hand. They knew that the God with the power to create the world also had the power to help them through their struggle. Do we?
- They appealed to God’s wisdom (v. 25-28). Not only is God powerful, He is also wise. The church appealed to the wisdom of God by citing the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 2 and noting that God’s purpose had been carried out. They believed that the God whose infinite wisdom crafted the scheme of redemption and planned the church in eternity would certainly know how to help them. Do we have the same measure of faith?
- They asked for help (v. 29-30). They simply prayed that God would grant them boldness and that He would help them in their task. God does not work miraculously today, but He still works (Phil. 2:13). Certainly it is appropriate for us to ask our Father to help us as we serve Him, especially in difficulty.
- God answered (v. 31). God wants His people to pray to Him and when we do so, we must have faith that He will answer (1 John 5:14-15). Sometimes the answer is not what we expect or when we expect it, but we must have faith.
The early church dealt with a great deal of controversy and yet their willingness to pray and their faith that God would hear and respond gave them strength. What about the church today?