Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word…And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
The prayer of the early Christians
The book of Acts is amazing in that it serves as a prototype for how Christians should carry out the purposes of God in our own generation.
Yet as I was reading and reflecting recently on this passage, I was reminded that when God’s Spirit was poured out on the first Christians for the purpose of mission, it was a pouring that was strategically given specifically for that generation.
Let me explain…
As we progress through the book Acts, what we see is an unprecedented efficacy with which the disciples carried out the purposes of God for that generation. We read that thousands came to faith almost instantly after every chapter, how the church literally spread like wildfire over a short period of time, to a point where it evolved from a ragged group of disciples in an upper room to having organizational leadership spanning across different continents.
Now that is some power.
The mistake in praying this prayer in our generation is to expect the methods used by early Christians to witness, convert, and transform their Roman-Greco world would be reused in our generation today. Although human nature has not much changed, the cultural, economic, geo-political contexts have vastly changed.
What I’m saying is that when I think of fresh anointing for witness today, I am praying specifically for fresh anointing from God that empowers us to be effective in our truly variegated world. When we are asking for power, we are needing power as a very time-specific tool that, like the first century, to make this generation respond to God like a field does to fire.
God is a contexual God, keenly aware of the cultural nuances that exist in our globe today. And his methods are not anochronistic. And as we are seeing the increasing dificulty of what it means to be a Western Christian, I am inspired by this passage again. For it reminds me that the same God who empowered Christians to witness to their generation with power and efficacy can easily empower us today.
Yes Lord, in our day and age with all its cultural implications, pour out your Spirit in a way that allows your work to again spread like wildfire.