This guest post comes to you courtesy of Amy Kavanaugh, the project manager for the Summit’s creative team. She shared this with several members of our team yesterday, and we felt it would be greedy to keep to ourselves!
Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” That sounds wonderful, but I’m guessing you hear a quote like that the same way I do—with a strong dose of skepticism.
The world around us certainly doesn’t seem to be governed and guided by prayer. It’s full of pain, sorrow, doubt, and loss. Sometimes the chaos we experience can leave us feeling crushed. Even if we aren’t personally suffering, all it takes is a quick glance at our social media feeds to feel like the forces of darkness are winning.
But that sense of vulnerable weakness is actually the context within which God moves. Consider the first disciples. Early in the book of Acts, Luke points out that not only the political leaders (Herod and Pontius Pilate) but most of the culture had gathered against the message of the gospel. The religious rulers of the day were so threatened by the gospel that they arrested Peter and John, demanding they stop “proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:1-2). It felt like the forces of darkness were winning. Every power in the world was aligned to stop the gospel from spreading.
Except the greatest of all powers—that of Jesus himself.
In the face of outright political and religious opposition, in the face of an explicit command to “speak no more,” Peter and John were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and continued to preach in the name of Jesus “with boldness” (4:7-13). Where did they find their courage in the face of adversity? What was the source of their boldness?
As our world spins further and further away from God’s original, perfect creation, those gathered against the gospel of Christ grow. We may be tempted to despair. Is God hearing our prayers? Is God in control? Is he even good? Where is the Holy Spirit in all of this? When, if ever, will he decide to show up?
Peter, John, and the early disciples had the same questions. And what did they do? They prayed. And when they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook (4:31). Can you imagine? Upon hearing their prayer, God shows up in a heavenly—yet physically tangible—display of glory. Perhaps just as miraculous, though, was the believers’ response. The earth was literally buckling under their feet, yet they went out in boldness.
Tim Keller points out that earthquakes in the Bible show that whenever God comes down, nothing on earth can bear him. An earthquake is the result of a greater substance coming in contact with a lesser substance. In other words, the place was shaken, but they were not. That’s the power of God.
The believers in that place knew the source of their faith. It wasn’t a God outside the world but the very one who ordained the earthquake, the one who gave them their very breath. In the midst of a shaken world, they remained steadfast, relying on God to provide their boldness through the power of the Holy Spirit.
They aren’t alone. The same power that filled those first believers, allowing them to defy the strongest power in the world, lives within you. The world may shake under our feet, but we won’t—because we serve a God who was shaken to pieces to save us.
The world may shake under our feet, but we won’t—because we serve a God who was shaken to pieces to save us.
So pray. Pray like you know the God that can shake the earth. Take your desperation and weakness and turn them heavenward. Your weakness isn’t an obstacle to prayer; it’s the very context in which prayer has divine power.