Peter and John were making their way into the temple for prayer when they caught sight of a beggar hunched beside one of the gates. As they passed by, the man asked them if they had any change they could spare.
Peter paused and asked the man to look at him. The beggar gladly complied, eagerly hoping that Peter had something to give him. As it turned out, Peter did have something to offer him, but it was something the beggar hadn’t dared to even imagine.
Acts 3:6,7 (NKJV) tells us this: “Then Peter said, silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And He took him by the right hand and lifted him up”.
It was a miracle. Everyone knew the beggar had been a cripple for 40 years and when he began to leap about praising God with a loud voice, the crowds of people milling around the temple court all began to flock around Peter and John.
Peter seized the opportunity and preached a sermon which led to the conversion of 5,000 men. The temple authorities were less than pleased and sent a despatch of soldiers to see what the commotion was about.
The guards brought Peter and John before the council. Rulers, elders, scribes, including the high priest himself. It was a formidable assembly of the highest-ranking Jewish authorities in Jerusalem.
In fact, these were the same men that Jesus had faced at his trial a little more than 40 days before. If Peter and John were nervous the Bible doesn’t tell us about it. Instead, it details the boldness and courage of the two men as they answered the charges of the Jewish leaders.
They were told not to preach in the name of Jesus but Peter and John answered;
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
The rulers and chief priests threatened them and then let them go. It would have been easy to swagger out of there and continue their victorious campaign on behalf of the gospel.
But instead Peter and John sought out their fellow believers, told them the whole story and then they all got together and prayed. One of the highlights of their prayer is recorded in Acts 4:29 where they say this:
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants, that with all boldness they may speak your word”.
It would have been easy for Peter and John to feel like they were invincible. They had just healed a man who had been crippled for 40 years and then stood their ground before the very men who killed Jesus. And they had gotten away with it without a scratch.
It would have been easy to feel self-confident. Instead, they went home, gathered their friends and prayed. They prayed for God’s intervention and they prayed for God to grant them courage.
Peter and John understood the truth about their situation: it was God who had healed the man at the temple, it was God who had given them boldness to speak to the crowd at the temple, and it was God who had protected them in their confrontation with the Jewish leaders; and because they recognized their dependence on God for all things they went home and prayed. They prayed for God to give them courage for the next encounter because they knew that without Him, they wouldn’t be able to stand.
How often do you ask God to help you as you tick off your daily to-do list? How often do you pause and ask God for strength and courage and guidance?
It can be easy to think we’re in control of our lives, but the truth is we need God and the good news is He is only a prayer away. We can always talk to Him, always call on Him in every situation we face.
We are never alone, and it is in our best interest to be like Peter and John and the other early Christians. In victory or defeat may we always lean on God through prayer and seek Him for the courage and wisdom we need to face what lies ahead.
If you would like to learn more about prayer so that you can face the future with hope and courage, then I’d like to recommend our free booklet: Finding Courage to Meet Life’s Challenges.