The Filling of the Holy Spirit: Acts 4:31
“And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” Acts‬ ‭4‬:‭31‬
I like earth shaking prayer meetings. I confess, I’ve never been in one where the physical ground trembled, but I have be in numerous prayer meeting where the presence of God was powerfully felt. During some of these prayer times, I am confident that the powers of darkness were shaken. Never underestimate the importance of prayer and worship in the spiritual realm.
The key phrase I want to zero in on in this verse is “and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Peter and John and their companions for the most part represented the group that were present on the day of Pentecost and were baptized by the Holy Spirit. This illustrates the biblical teaching that there is “one baptism” of the Holy Spirit but “many fillings.”
This can be established by looking at Ephesians 4:5 and 5:18 side by side. The Greek in Ephesians 5:18 should be translated “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus wants to freshly fill and anoint His servants with the Holy Spirit for every task, witnessing opportunity or preaching event. Notice in Acts 4:31, the filling of the Holy Spirit was directly connected to prayer and seeking Gods power. I maintain that prayerless ministry is powerless ministry. When we neglect seeking God in prayer, we are automatically trusting our fleshly talents, abilities or clever programs for the results.
This is why much church activity today leaves people bored as compared to the sense of “awe and wonder” felt by people in the early church. (See Acts 2:43) They took prayer and seeking the filling, anointing and outpouring of the Holy Spirit seriously.
Modern ministry is often void of sincere and urgent prayer. I watch this as I am invited to speak at many churches and events. I am always pleased when leadership meets to pray with me as the speaker for a few minutes before a service, But honestly, I don’t expect much of the presence of God during the service from this kind of shallow praying. I am more blessed when they actually lay hands on me and pray for the filling and anointing of the Holy Spirit over me and my message. It shows they are on the target.
On the rare occasions when the intercessors are on duty and the prayer warriors are watchfully praying over the venue during the service, I expect a kiss from heaven. During these services the presence and power of God is so strong that the Holy Spirit wrestles with people before the message begins and long after the service has ended. I relish being in the presence and power of God. Some churches build this kind of “God seeking” into their fabric. The church at Antioch certainly did. (See Acts 13:1-4) I have been in churches like this and experienced the sense of awe and wonder because of the presence of God.
Like the manna in the wilderness, the bread of heaven must be sought daily. Yesterdays filling and anointing runs out. The inner cup goes dry and must be filled again. Yesterdays filling does not carry over into the next day or week. I seek the filling of the Holy Spirit every time I preach or teach… no matter how big or small the event. Those occasions when I neglected seeking God in this way have been dry, empty and disastrous.
But there is another secret. We can pray for divine appointments and the filling of the Holy Spirit every day and throughout the day. I don’t want to go through the motions of life and miss what God is doing around me.
This is what happened to the disciples in John 4:1-45. They spent much of the day shopping in the city of Sychar and didn’t talk to a single person about spiritual things. They concluded the town was closed to God.
Meanwhile, the Samaritan woman spent so much time with Jesus that her spiritual cup was overflowing. She left her physical water pots behind and went into the city and talked to everyone about Jesus. She soon returned with a crowd that was eager to meet Jesus.
Here is the point, ordinary days can become extraordinary days when our spiritual cups are full. I believe this daily walk in the Spirit accounted for the mystery recorded in Acts 2:47; “… and the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Don’t be deceived into thinking that the Holy Spirit cannot work through you or that He is only on duty for an hour on Sunday morning.
The Holy Spirit is not restricted by time or space. He is always present and active, but we are not always “tuned in.” Acts 4:24-31 praying might not be as much about inviting God into our midst as it is about us entering into His presence and power. Whatever the mystery, we are called to seek God through prayer and there is a notable difference between prayerless living and prayerful living. The difference is the filling and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global