There is indeed a difference between these four, though “speaking in tongues” and “praying in the Spirit” are related to being “filled with the Spirit.” Let’s go through them, starting with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 1:5 the Lord Jesus informed His disciples that they would soon experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He said, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” In Acts 2:2 we have the fulfillment of this promise, for we read that the disciples were assembled on the day of Pentecost “and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” We see in the following verses that the Holy Spirit filled each believer but it is important to know exactly what the “baptism of the Spirit” is. For this we turn to 1 Corinthians 12:13 where we read, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The “baptism of the Spirit” results in all believers being put into the church, the body of Christ. When the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost He indwelt all believers and formed the church. From that time on, the moment a soul believed on Christ as their Savior they were also added to the church, as we see in Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (NKJV).

In contrast to the “baptism of the Spirit,” which occurs only once…the moment we believe on Christ, the “filling of the Spirit” is when we are completely under the Spirit’s control. We read in Acts 2:4, “And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Not only had the Spirit come to indwell believers and to form them into one body, but he came to fill each one and to use them for the glory of God. On that momentous day 120 disciples, who had formerly been hiding in fear, boldly proclaimed their faith in Jesus Christ to their fellow-countrymen. This boldness came from the Holy Spirit, for Jesus had said in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me…” All believers have the Spirit living in them, but we need to allow the Spirit to control us. We are exhorted to yield to His control in Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” This is a “moment by moment” experience; as we yield our lives to God the Spirit will control us.

When a believer is filled with the Spirit, it will be manifested in various ways. We saw in Acts 2:4 that the Spirit-filled disciples “began to speak with tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The Spirit gave them the gift of being able to “speak in languages” they had never learned so they could witness to all the Jews who assembled for the feast of Pentecost. But this is only one of many manifestations of the Spirit. You had mentioned “praying in the Spirit,” which involves being under the control of the Spirit and praying according to God’s will and for His honor and glory. Romans 8:26-27 speaks to this, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (NKJV). In addition to “speaking in tongues” and “praying in the Spirit,” we can display the very life of Christ as we yield to the Spirit’s control. We will end this short meditation by quoting Paul’s words in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (173.10) (DO)