Acts 4:23-31: November 4—Pray with dependency
Oct 28, 2012

Wiley Richards is a retired professor of theology and philosophy at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
All too often prayer meeting becomes a report of, and prayer for, the sick and distressed. In many instances, many of those present cannot hear the words of the one praying. For churches with a portable microphone, I often direct a helper to go to the one making a prayer request and then ask for someone who would like to voice the requested prayer. We take the requests one at a time. If a need is great enough to need prayer, it is important enough for everyone to pray about. All the prayers are focused on one request, much as a radiologist can focus healing rays into the brain from various angles thus intensifying the effect at the needed location without damaging healthy tissue. Focused prayer can have a healing impact.

We begin by noting the Christians following Pentecost prayed in one accord (vv. 23-26). That is, they were together as one in their convictions. The English word “accord” carried the idea of a tune which has correct tone and sound with no discordant notes. When the assembled believers heard the report of Peter and John about their successful defense before the council of elders and other officials, they realized God must have intervened to supply them with the strong defense of the miracles performed among the people. Acts 4:8 attributes the source of the words of Peter to the fact he had been filled with the Holy Spirit.

The assembled believers showed their grasp of the spiritual significance of what was happening. They began their praise of adoration to the Creator God who “made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is” (v. 24). Even in His infinite power He was not remote from His world. He continued to be active in His created order as the group saw Psalm 2:1-2 being fulfilled among them. The kings and rulers, they believed, stood for the religious leaders who were trying to oppose God’s anointed One, Jesus (v. 26).

The believers understood the actual source of the events. The trial had little to do with themselves and everything to do with Jesus. Herod and Pontius Pilate had aligned themselves with the Gentiles, that is, the Roman rulers, and Jewish people to assault Jesus. At the same time, assembled Christians realized those evil actions had been used by God to bring about the death of the Messiah. We can only marvel at the way God uses human free choices to effect His purposes.

Having settled their understanding of the developments, the Christians then prayed for boldness (vv. 29-30). Their request for God to work “signs and wonders” through the “name of thy holy child Jesus” merits closer attention. At the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter defended the events by declaring it was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, especially the words of verse 30 in which God promised to “shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.” The first evangelists claimed that assurance of their work. The phrase “signs and wonders” are also given in 5:12, 7:36, and 8:13 in Acts as well as Romans 15:19, 2 Corinthians 12:12 and Hebrews 2:4. A citation in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 warns that Satan deceptively performs sign and wonders. We can apply the message to us in at least one respect, namely, that the contents of our prayers ought to be biblically based. It is then we learn the scope and contents of God’s will.

We rejoice when we read of God’s answers (V. 31). He granted their three requests, probably in excess of what they expected. First, “the place was shaken” where they were assembled together. This wonder was akin to the shaking of the earth when Jesus died (Matt. 27:51). This shaking became a recognizable proof of the power of the Holy Spirit. Second, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts can properly be called the manifesto of the Holy Spirit, depicting His work. Third, they spoke the word (the powerful story of Jesus) with boldness. At no point do they show any hesitation based on fear of what might happen to them. Instead, they embraced the certainty of suffering for His Name.

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