And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
— Acts 4:31
How does God impact our world — through the daily faithful witness of His people or through extraordinary sovereign acts of His power?
The answer is actually “Yes.” The above question should not be posed as “either”/“or,” but I regularly hear two opposite opinions about how God wants to transform our world until Christ returns. On the one hand, some Chrisitans propose that we should focus on ourselves by living more devout lives and not look for God to miraculously transform our lives and our world. On the other hand, other Christians believe that our best efforts are fruitless and the only thing that will help us is a unilateral work of God’s Spirit to intervene in the affairs of humanity. In actuality, both viewpoints are correct, and it makes a big difference if we understand the correlation between them.
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In Acts 4, for example, we can see the significance and connection of both daily faithfulness and dramatic works of God.
The apostles and early Christians lived extraordinarily devout lives, especially by today’s standards in the West. They gathered together every day to pray and hear Scripture (what we might called “devotions” today) at least twice per day, at morning and evening. The threatening circumstances of Acts 4 did not cause them to pray together as we see in this passage, for they were already devoting themselves to multiple meetings for prayer every day, although the situation at hand must have added to the urgency and time spent in prayer.
In Acts 4:31, the Holy Spirit comes again in great power. He manifests Himself by shaking the room where they prayed. Then, the apostles and disciples sense that He is filling them again, and as a result they continue to preach the gospel with great boldness.
The disciples would have languished without the Spirit’s refilling, and the spread of the gospel would have halted through them. They needed a sovereign work of God’s power in their lives. However, Luke makes it clear that the Spirit of God came as a result of their prayers, “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken…” Here is where we learn the connection between our daily faithfulness and God’s dramatic reviving work – the former leads to the latter, and both are absolutely necessary. The apostle James summarized this connection in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
May it be so in America, Lord. Restore the level of devotion in Your people and send Your Spirit in mighty waves of boldness and supernatural aid, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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