The Prayer for Boldness
Read Acts 4:23-31
Let’s break this prayer down:
Luke (the author of Acts) doesn’t identify who was praying but I believe it is safe to accept that one person prayed whilst others raised their voices in agreement. Matthew Henry says the following in his exhaustive commentary:
“When they heard they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, v.24. One in the name of the rest lifted up his voice to God and the rest joined with him, with one mind (so the word signifies); their hearts went along with him, and so, though but one spoke, they all prayed.” [Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible p.448]
Notice the phrase ‘of one accord‘ again. Some translations omit this phrase; the NIV (New International Version) for example reads: ‘they raised their voices together‘…which I would assert is a poor translation of the Greek word ‘homothumadon‘. We have looked at this previously and it is understood to mean ‘harmony that leads to action’.
“Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them…” [Verse 24]
Notice how it follows the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer by declaring just who God is. All the way through the Old Testament we see examples of Israel using the same pattern of declaring who God is and often some of His great works. Just read the Psalms to see Him described as the God who parted the seas or led them through the wilderness. Respect and humility is vital if we want to stand before the throne of God with our requests.
How we address God is important too. Jesus taught us “Our Father in heaven…” as an example but the disciples showed us we can address the creator of the universe as ‘Lord‘. In this instance the word here for Lord (Strong’s G1203), out of interest is ‘despotes‘ meaning one who has absolute dominion.
“…who, by the mouth of Your servant David have said:” [Verse 25]
Some manuscripts and translations have the added prefix of ‘through the Holy Spirit…‘ In other words, showing that what David said wasn’t just him saying stuff…the very words were from God Himself. This adds authority to what follows.
“Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.” [Verse 26]
This is quoted directly from Psalm 2:1-2 which, although isn’t attributed to David in the usual way, is so here. Around 75 of the 150 Psalms are attributed to David, usually with a heading like ‘Of David’. Psalm 2 doesn’t have such a prefix but because we accept that all scripture is ‘breathed by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Timothy 3:16), we accept that what the speaker of this prayer said is true.
This time the word for ‘Lord’ is Strong’s G2962 – ‘kyrios‘ meaning supreme authority.
Psalm 2 is clearly prophetic in nature; looking forward to a time when God’s anointed one would be conspired against. The psalmist doesn’t use the word Christ (which we get from the Greek Christos (G5547)) that comes from a phrase meaning ‘to smear with oil or anoint‘. But, we can be sure that David was speaking out a prophecy. It may well have had some immediate relevance to him at the time too. He was God’s anointed king after all. With all biblical prophecy there has a tendency for there to be a ‘right now‘ context and a ‘yet to come‘ context. I believe Psalm fits this criteria.
Now the thing we already know about prophecies that come through the Holy Spirit is that they always come to pass.
“So shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” [Isaiah 55:11]
So with all prophecy we have what God says and His word goes out from Him until it accomplishes what He desired. Here we have the fulfilment of Psalm 2:
“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilot, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together…[wait for it]…to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” [Verses 27-28 my italics and addition]
In other words, God purposed beforehand that they would gather together to rage and plot against His anointed, in order that His purpose was fulfilled. See how this works? God purposes something; His Holy Spirit finds someone to speak it out (in this case David); the Holy Spirit then ensures that it happens and whoever was praying in that room spoke out the fulfilment of the prophecy back to God…and His word has returned to Him…fulfilled, not void.
Now in this particular case, we see from the previous chapter that those God chose to conspire against Jesus in order to fulfil His purpose, liked that sort of work and were content to carry it on without the Holy Spirit’s influence:
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” [Verses 29-30]
Let’s break this down with a paraphrase:
Lord they are still carrying on and are no longer in line with your will (arguably)…
Give us boldness to speak your word -The word boldness (G3954) is translated from ‘parrhesia‘ and is ‘Outspokenness, unreserved utterance, freedom of speech, with frankness, candour, cheerful courage, and the opposite of cowardice, timidity of fear…it is not considered a human quality but as a result of being filled or furnished with the Holy Spirit.’ [Spirit Filled Life Bible 1991 p1632]
Use your hand to perform supernatural healing that will give us boldness – The word here that gives us hand (G5495) is cheir which means hand or power. I would suggest that it is the power of the Holy Spirit working through us.
so that signs and wonders may be performed using the power or authority of the name of Jesus. Ephesians 1:21 tells us just how much authority the name of Jesus has…
…in other words – Give us permission to speak out your word…let us prophesy in your name…let us be the means through which you work out your purposes.
What happened next?
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” [Verse 31]
Filled with the Holy Spirit…again. By my reckoning this took place within a week of Pentecost. For the second time in just a few days they were filled with the wonderful Holy Spirit, so much so that they spilled over with God’s word…boldly.
Notice how the whole prayer NEVER asks for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit. They were selfless. Their motives weren’t to receive but instead to give. They wanted only to speak out god’s word in boldness and to see people set free from sickness.
One last note. The word for spoke – (or spake in KJV) is laleo (G2980) – with means to utter words, to preach, and is different from (G3004) lego which means to relate a discourse or story.
The prayer is a model for us:
1. Address God correctly
2. Remind Him of any prophecy related to your issue
3. Check your motives and ask for what God wants, not what you want
4. Stop praying and receive.