Beginning in verse 24 of Acts 4, we see a prayer of the Apostles recorded by Luke. This prayer shows the hearts of those involved as we see that they know and rest upon the truth of God’s word. We also see that the Holy Spirit has shown them they are experiencing the fulfillment of Psalm 2. A great need was uncovered in their quest for holiness and perfect obedience to the Lord’s command to go forth and make disciples of all nations. They needed boldness.
The council of religious leaders had forbidden them from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus. Knowing they did not have the option to stop proclaiming what they had seen and heard, the Apostles turned to the Lord and asked for boldness. Luke does not record a petition to remove these leaders from their position nor do they ask for freedom from this yolk in any way. They knew true freedom came from the power of God; thus, they asked the Lord to give them freedom of speech or the freedom to speak without hindrance. This is translated, “grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” in the ESV.
Scripture clearly teaches the Lord ordained kings and rulers to set themselves, “against the Lord and against his Anointed” (Acts 4:26). This truth was known by the Apostles and led them to ask the Lord to help them obey the commission given them by Christ. They knew the temptation to walk away from it all would grow as the intensity of this opposition grew; thus, they leaned upon the great power of the Holy Spirit that rested upon them in Acts 2. The Lord then shook the building they were in as a way to remind them of the Spirit’s power and to ensure them He would help them as they had asked.
The Lord commands us to be obedient yet He has not ordained obedience and holiness to be easily grasped. He ordained the perfect holiness by which he judges us to be imputed to us through faith in Christ, and says we “ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6) while on this earth. He commands obedience and provides for it in Christ. This is the glory of God shining forth! As we walk in this life, we are to seek perfection (knowing we will only attain it at the resurrection) through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. In this prayer recorded in Acts 4 the Apostles show us the outworking of God’s Spirit as He moves in hearts that know the truth revealed in Scripture.
There are many principles to be taken from this passage. First and foremost we should notice the greatness of God’s sovereignty as He works to faithfully fulfill His promise of redemption. We can also glean a lesson about prayer. The Apostles prayer arose from a need. If you struggle with prayer, diligently seek obedience and your difficulty in this, which will definitely come, will lead to groanings of your heart toward God in prayer. Striving for obedience to God is hard work, and you will need God’s help, and from there your prayers will flow. Your intimacy with the Lord will grow and this intimacy is used by the Spirit to assure us that we can rest in Christ.