The Prayer for Boldness Part 1

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

October 21, 2013

Acts of the Apostles
By: Tom Lowe



Lesson II.C.3.b: The Prayer for Boldness (4.23-31)


Acts 4.23-31 (KJV)

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:" 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.'
27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.
28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Commentary
23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

I can imagine the excitement that prevailed among the Christians in Jerusalem when they heard that Peter and John had been arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. The news must have traveled rapidly and the devotion and fervor of these early Christians would have brought them together to pray for the two apostles, just as they had prayed for Peter when Herod imprisoned him. (In Acts 12.5 we read that “Prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him”—and God answered their prayers by sending an angel to set Peter free. Read the account in Chapter 12, verses 1 through 19.) In all probability they had prayed for Peter and John throughout the long hours they had been imprisoned, perhaps with a great deal of fear in their hearts. To this company of believers, and in this atmosphere of spirituality, Peter and John told their story.
It was with great joy that Peter and John (and in all likelihood, the lame man was with them) went to the place where “their own company” of fellow believers (the whole church) had assembled—and I am sure they were received with great joy. We can be sure they gave their Christian brethren a full report of “all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.” They knew that the hostility that was stirred-up against them was determined, confident, and daring; that it had stopped at nothing to silence the voice of the supreme Teacher, so now it would stop at nothing in order to silence the voices of those who were repeating what He had said, with the added argument and force of their declaration of His resurrection. The question is, how would the community respond to the threat of the council? The believers could have taken a defeatist attitude and knuckled under in the face of danger. Yet they did not react in this manner. They prayed to God for strength to meet the crises. On this day, and within this prayer meeting was concentrated the greatest power in Jerusalem. The prayer, which begins in the next verse is truly one of the greatest prayers recorded in the Bible, and it is a good example for us to follow.

The “chief priests” were a small group within the Sanhedrin, composed of former high priests and members of influential priestly families.


24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.

Please make a note that there was no idle talk following the apostle’s report of their appearance before the Sanhedrin, and there were no plans or schemes worked out to deal with the situation. No committees were formed to decide what the next move should be. No vote was taken to determine whether or not they should continue to use the name of Jesus in their ministry. This little band of Christians wasted no time, but “when they heard” the report of Peter and John, they immediately “lifted up their voice to God.” They turned at once to the Christ in whose name they had been forbidden to speak.

If you will study 2 Kings, chapter 19, you will notice the interesting account of Hezekiah’s response to the very serious threat made by Rabshakeh (mouthpiece for Sennacherib, king of Assyria) against the people of Israel. When good king Hezekiah received Rabshakeh's letter, by hand of messengers, he read it—and then “went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord” (2 Kings 19.14).

The company of believers with Peter and John laid their problem before the Lord—and what better recourse could they have followed? After all, the whole matter concerned Jehovah God and His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. These people were dedicated servants, and their devotion to Him was such that they were ready and willing to glorify Him by serving, suffering, or dying if necessary. The Holy Spirit leads us to prayer, and when the believer prays fervently and sincerely, his prayer expresses his dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was a prayer that was born out of service and witness for the Lord. Peter and John had just come in “from the trenches,” and the church met to pray in order to defeat the enemy. These Christians prayed “with one accord”—not for vengeance to be poured out upon their enemies, not for fire to come down from Heaven and consume the Sanhedrin, but for God to give them boldness to speak the Word and to do whatever His hand and counsel “determined before to be done” (v. 28). And God answered their prayer, as we will see in verse 31 of this chapter.

The fact that these believers lifted up their voices “with one accord” does not mean that each and everyone prayed at the same time. If that had been the case, confusion would have been the result—and God is not the author of confusion—“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Co. 14.33). Also (in verse 40 of that same chapter), we are instructed, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Therefore it would seem more likely that one person—perhaps Peter—prayed aloud, and the rest of the assembly followed in their hearts “with one accord.” The people were of one heart and mind, and God was pleased to answer their requests. Division in the church always hinders prayer and robe the church of spiritual power.

To be “instant in prayer” (Rom. 12.12), or to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5.17), means to be in an attitude of prayer; but it is not necessary to say words aloud to pray. There is a time for audible prayer, but I believe some of the most effective prayer is done in silence.

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

Notice the opening words of the prayer in our present verse: These Christians addressed their petition to Despota which is translated “Sovereign Lord” (meaning master, despot; which suggests a slave relationship between God and man) and to “God, which hath made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.” “Sovereign Lord” was the proper designation for our Almighty God because He was able to suppress the wrath of the Jerusalem rulers and carry out His plan until final triumph was achieved. John 1.1-3 tells us that “the Word (Christ) was in the beginning with God,” and that “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” In Ephesians 3.9 Paul speaks of God as having “created all things by Jesus Christ,” and in Hebrews 1.2 we read that God “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”

There are men today who continually search for a discovery of how the worlds and solar systems came into being. If they would read and believe the Word of God they would find the answer, because the Bible clearly teaches that the Lord God created all things by the Word—by the Lord Jesus Christ—and for Him.

After the complete revelation of the Gospel of the Son of God was given (as the Holy Spirit spoke through holy men and they pinned down God’s Word), prayer was addressed to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the proper way for believers to address God today. In this Dispensation of Grace, prayer is to be made in Christ’s name in the power of His Spirit. There is no place in the book of Acts or in the epistles where prayer is addressed to the Holy Spirit, although the Spirit helps us in our praying.


25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:" 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.'

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