I realize some will have noticed that the font being used for this particular post is different than the others. I have been trying to make it the same as the others but to no avail, and this is also the reason why the verses are not in bold and italics. Sometimes I think computers have a mind of their own, or I'm not smart enough to figure out the most basic of instructions. Either way, I did not want to delay posting this teaching.
Acts 9:11, “So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus for behold, he is praying.”
We live in an age where multitudes of men go, without being sent. Coincidentally men who are not sent never seem to go to places or embark upon ministries which may be difficult for the flesh, which may be counterintuitive, or counterproductive to their own bottom line and lifestyle. When the Lord sends one of his disciples out however, it is often to places few would venture, to minister to people few would give the time of day to, but who go nonetheless, for to be a true disciple one must live in perpetual obedience of the master.
Ananias, was a faithful disciple, one who went even though the man he was being sent to minister to had a reputation that preceded him. Ananias had heard about Saul, the great persecutor of the brethren, and was terrified by what he had heard of him. To human reason, going out of one’s way to run into Saul of Tarsus, would have been foolish, but Ananias had no choice but to go, strengthened by the fact that the Lord had commanded it.
When the Lord commands us to embark upon a journey, to arise and go, we go emboldened by the knowledge that even though to human eyes our endeavor is doomed to failure, God will make a way. Too few see the power of God, and the miracles of God in their lives, because they choose not to take that first step, they choose not to obey the command justifying their inaction by listing all the reasons they will likely fail. God can only prove Himself once we have taken that step of faith and obeyed His command to arise and go. God is always speaking to His people, but in order for His people to hear His voice, they must have their spiritual ears open, listening for the voice of the Father. When our spiritual ears are open and the Father speaks, we arise from our comfort zone, from our day-to-day lives, and go wherever He sends us.
God gave Ananias a precise address, entrusting him to perform a specific task, knowing the sure fruit that his obedience would produce. This is the way God works. When He sends us, He instructs us, telling us what we must do, leaving nothing to chance.
Saul, the one who previously breathed threats of murder against the followers of Christ, had been transformed into a man who prayed. Saul not only fought against God persecuting the Christians, he was the bane of their existence, arousing terror by his actions, and no one dared to approach him. Now this same man had been brought low and humbled, now blind and unable to care for himself. This impotence and blindness however, were full of as yet unseen blessing.
One crucial lesson in analyzing the conversion of Saul, is acknowledging the fact that when we can no longer trust in ourselves, or lean on our understanding, when our strength has failed us, and our sight has left us, we must look for help elsewhere, outside of ourselves. When we are brought to this place in our lives, we no longer boast of our accomplishments, we no longer revel in our wisdom, we no longer trust in our strength, but surrender our all to Christ, acknowledging Him as being our strength and our shield, our joy and our peace, our comfort and our provision.
No longer is Saul the aggressor, no longer is he a man that overcomes people by force, no longer does he aspire to imprison people in cells of stone and brick. He is now transformed into a servant, forsaking the way of violence for that of love, compelling all who would hear to embrace the love of Christ, and be made free. At the house of Judas, Saul of Tarsus prayed, waiting patiently for the next piece of the puzzle to fall into place, for the next leg of his journey to be made known to him. Although none of those who journeyed with him had yet seen any virtue in Saul, God already had, making known to Ananias, that Saul was praying.
Often God sees virtue in us far in advance of man; He sees the potential that is there, even if those around us see nothing worthwhile or redeeming. Saul had taken the leap into the unknown. This was new territory for him, no longer being in control, but blind and impotent humbling himself in prayer.
What Christ requires of the penitent souls is that they trust Him to the point of flinging themselves into His embrace regardless of the murmurs of friends, family or acquaintances. It is human nature to cling to those things we can see, and those things we can touch, but Christ asks that we take a step of faith toward Him. The moment Saul fell to his knees in prayer heaven took notice, knowing that the work had begun. Saul was praying.
Only a heart that has been awakened and revived can utter a true prayer, a prayer that comes from that place of groaning, a prayer not neatly fitting into the mold of formula or ceremony, absent of pharisaical boasts, but simple, sincere and heartfelt. The length of our prayers or the use of big words does not impress God. He is not impressed by the correct inflection and cadence of the sentence structure. What stirs God’s heart, is sincerity and yearning, a desire to know Him more fully and deeply.
When the heart is stirred to prayer, knowing that it must either cry out, or fall beneath the burden threatening to overwhelm it, the prayer is genuine, and honest. Unpolished as such a prayer might be it stirs the heart of God every time. When the heart is full it must pour itself out. Even if the words escape us, the heart will speak what the lips never could, before the omniscience of our heavenly Father. True prayer is done with the heart rather than the lips.
Although it is a lesson for another time, I would be remiss if I did not point out the following: A life absent of prayer is a life absent of fruit. A life absent of prayer is a life absent of victory. If there was a time when you had a prayer life, when you found joy and comfort in spending time with the Father, but now find reason to put it off for another day, may you with all diligence look into the mirror of God’s word and search out the areas in which you have grown cold toward His grace. When prayer is not found in the life of a believer, given enough time, one can witness the starvation of the spirit. A prayer life nourishes the spirit, it gives us strength and courage, it emboldens us to search deeper, and grow in God.
Prayer should not be our last resort. Prayer is not the life raft of life, there to be utilized when we start to sink and have no other place to turn to, prayer is the means by which we fellowship with the Father, by which we commune with Him, and grow in Him daily. May we rightly assign prayer the proper place on our list of priorities, and endeavor to grow our prayer life in perpetuity.
Acts 9:12, “And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
Because Ananias was a disciple of Christ, the Lord already knew he would obey. Ananias had been assigned this specific task of going and seeking out Saul of Tarsus, and at the same time Saul of Tarsus was being shown a vision of a man named Ananias coming and putting his hands on him that he might receive his sight. This vision was an answer to Saul’s prayer, showing him that the time of blindness would soon come to an end.
It is encouraging to see that God does not leave a work undone. If He has begun it, He will finish it. There are no half measures with God. Both men were shown that they would meet one another, that one would lay hands, and the other would receive his sight.
Once again it is worth noting the importance of prayer in the life of God’s children. For only by prayer can we receive light, and see things unseen by the eyes of flesh. God reveals Himself to all who pray, in greater or lesser measure.
Saul not only saw Ananias in his vision, he even knew his name. The works of God can be seen and perceived without the aid of our physical eyes. After all that Saul had done, after all the persecution that had been suffered at his hand, the Lord whom he had been persecuting was extending grace and mercy, revealing the measure of His love for even one such as Saul. When the mercy of God envelops an individual, that individual receives their sight and no longer walks in the darkness of the world. Soon, Saul’s conversion and restoration would be complete, and the new man would emerge, the fearless warrior, the obedient servant, the selfless disciple that would spend the rest of his days telling all who would hear of the grace that saved him, the love that filled him, and the blood that redeemed him.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.