“And when they had prayed … they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (ACTS 4:31).
As with Christians in much of the world today, for the early church, persecution, and the pain and poverty that came along with the persecution, was a way of life.
Our Lord Jesus told those who chose to follow Him that they could and should expect persecution [MATT 10:16-33; JN 15:18-21; 16:1-3], and in fact, they should consider themselves a blessed people, and rejoice in the fact that they were being persecuted [MATT 5:11-12]!
For us American Christians, persecution seems to be an anomaly. We don’t understand it, we definitely don’t see the blessing of persecution, we have a hard time imagining “rejoicing,” if and when it comes our way, and we tend to do everything we can to avoid it!
When persecution, problems, poverty, or pain came their way, as in Acts 4:18-31, the church didn’t pray for freedom from the problems or persecution, they didn’t cry about their rights being denied, and they surely didn’t petition the government.
Here’s what the early church did when persecution came their way: They prayed for power and boldness to serve in the midst of the persecution. And, God answered their prayers. And, so should we!
Just a little footnote here: I feel totally inadequate to write anything about persecution. Because, as an American Christian — especially compared to our brothers and sisters around the world — I have suffered NO real persecution. Let us not forget to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world!