The Prayer of the Primitive Church
Acts 4:23-37
And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.…

Prayer is not the origin of a movement, but the result of one. You stand on the margin of a lake, and hear a mysterious sound coming from the dead wall of a grey ruined castle that stands on an island near the shore. The sound, however, was not generated in that ruin. The words of a living man, wafted over the still water, struck the old silent keep, and its wall gave back the echo. Prayer, man's cry to God, is the second of a series of vibrations, an echo awakened in ruined dumb humanity, by God's sweet promise coming down from heaven. We may discover the specific promise to which this prayer replies (Isaiah 40:26, 27). What a sublime position these suppliants occupy! They are admitted into the Divine counsel. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." They were able to mark in the Scriptures the precise spot they had reached in the scheme of providence, as a ship-master marks his latitude on his chart. In the quiet confidence of faith they realise that hostile combinations only accomplish the gracious purpose of God. In ver. 29 comes the most important of all their requests. Parliamentary petitions are sometimes of great length. There may be a narrative of facts, long and intricate; there may be the citation of precedents; there may be arguments and plans; but it is common to pass over all these when the document is presented, and to read only what is denominated "the prayer of the petition," i.e., the clause at the end which declares what the petitioners want. Ver. 29 contains the prayer of this petition. And what was it? Not vengeance, not immunity from danger, but grace to be faithful under persecution. This exhibits a beautiful distrust of self and confidence in God. Their only anxiety was lest natural shrinking from suffering should tempt them to conceal the pungent parts of their testimony. Our circumstances are diverse from theirs; yet the pressure which tempts to timid unfaithfulness is only removed from one side to another. "The fear of man bringeth a snare," but snares are not all of one shape or material. A force that is diffused and soft may have a greater pressure than one that is sharp and hard, as the atmosphere over a man's body lies heavier on him than any other burden he ever bore. To threaten a witness for Christ with the prison or the scaffold is one way of turning him from his faithfulness, to set before him the favour of a polished but worldly circle is another. If two ships are lost at sea by the false pointing of their compasses it will make no difference as to the loss of property or life that the compass of one ship was prevented from pointing truly by a nail that fastened it to the deck, and that the compass of the other was secretly drawn aside by a mass of iron concealed in the hold. Thus an ancient preacher who held back the truth for fear of the dungeon, and a modern minister who softens and disguises the truth, because a gay, worldly, and critical congregation listen, must stand side by side.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

WEB: Being let go, they came to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.

The Prayer of the Church At Jerusalem Under Persecution
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