by Shannon Caughey
What hinders us from making the fullest possible impact for Christ in our sphere of influence as a coach? It’s typically not a lack of knowledge. We usually have a pretty good understanding of what Jesus wants us to say and do as his representatives. It’s also not a lack of opportunities. Every week we encounter moments when we have a chance to point people to Jesus – if we take advantage of these opportunities.
We often fall short of making the fullest possible impact for Christ because of a lack of courage. We allow various fears to hold us back, such as: “Will people be critical of me or reject me if I talk about Jesus? Will I get in trouble as a coach or maybe even lose my job if I’m too up-front about my faith?” A lack of courage has certainly hindered me from speaking about Jesus and pointing others to him on far too many occasions. How do we address this deficiency? It starts with prayer. We make praying for courage a regular part of our prayer “practice plan.”
In Acts 3-4, two of Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, heal a man by Christ’s power who previously had been crippled his entire life. The crowd that gathered to witness this is amazed, so Peter speaks with them about who Jesus is and encourages them to put their faith in Jesus. The local authorities don’t like this. They arrest Peter and John, detain them in jail overnight, and then threaten them with even more consequences if they keep telling others about Jesus.
Upon their release, Peter and John gather with other followers of Christ and share about the authorities’ threats. They then pray. What we see in Acts 4:24-31 gives us a model for praying for courage as part of our prayer “practice plan.”
First, recognize that our great God is ultimately in control. In v. 24, these Christ-followers in Acts open their prayer by remembering what is true about God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them…” God is the sovereign ruler over all. The One who by his awesome power created all things is in control at all times. Nothing can thwart his ability to accomplish all his purposes. Our courage comes from who God is, not who we are. As we praise God for his greatness, it fuels our prayers for courage because we’re reminded that “if God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Second, ask God for boldness – and ask boldly. Listen to what the believers in Acts request of God (vv. 29-30): “29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” They don’t pray for easier circumstances or protection from those who oppose them. They ask for more courage to tell others about Jesus. And they boldly ask God to do more amazing things so that they have even more opportunities to courageously point people to Jesus. As we ask God for greater courage, pray boldly that he would work in ways that would prompt us to then courageously live and speak for Jesus.
God answers this prayer for courage in Acts 4: “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness” (v. 31). While our experience may not mirror exactly what happens with these believers in Acts, we can be sure of this: God has also given us his Spirit when we put our faith in Christ, and God will answer our prayers for courage through the Spirit’s work in us.
Coach, do you want to make the fullest possible impact for Christ in your sphere of influence? Make praying for courage part of your prayer “practice plan.” Let Acts 4 direct and fuel your prayers for courage. And be ready to see how God answers!
For reflection: Take a few minutes to pray for courage to speak and live for Christ in your specific context. Praise God for his sovereignty and greatness, and express your confidence in him to enable you to overcome any fears you’re encountering.