When Saul was seized by a vision near Damascus, and a bright light blinded him, he was persecuting Christians and killing them. Ananias was sent to help him.
And the Lord said unto Ananias, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth” – Acts 9:11 KJV.
“Behold, he prayeth.” Of all the marks of identification that God could have chosen to describe Saul, he chose this. “Behold, he prayeth”. God didn’t say, “Behold, Saul the persecuter” or “Behold, Saul the son of X&Y”. He didn’t say “Saul the Pharisee” or “Saul the world class theologian” or “Saul the outstanding orator”. None of that mattered in any way to God. Instead, God said “Behold, this man is praying”. That was his mark of identification. Clearly, God was excited! Behold! He… Saul is praying!” It seems like, prayer in its most rudimentary form -was earning favour with the King!
It doesn’t take a lot of intellect to assume what Paul was praying for. He was possibly saying just one thing “Lord have mercy! And forgive my sin.”
Saul the pharisee was possibly a lot like us who pray laborious christian prayers. Like other pharisees, possibly, Saul’s prayers were layered with long impressive words mixed with clichés and those regularly said things that we aren’t sensitive to. But at this moment, he started praying with his heart, soul and mind. A connection was made. A relationship was built between a Heavenly All-Powerful Father and an earthly mortal son. And from the overflow of that relationship, God declared to Ananias, “Behold, he prayeth!”
“Behold, he prays!” Prayer. THAT is the mark of a believer. THAT is the first step of the Christian life. Prayer and the Christian life are in-seperable. They are like Siamese twins. They come out together. They go out together. It cannot be taught. You can make someone repeat the sinner’s prayer but it will be as worthless as a rotten avocado if enforced on someone. Only God can convict. And only the prayer that the heart pours out will make God say, “Behold, he prays!”. Not “Behold he sings!” or “Behold he reads his Bible”or “Behold, he goes to church”, but rather, “Behold, he prays”.
You can’t help but wonder how much God wants and yearns for prayer. Its almost as if hearing a genuine prayer gives Him goosebumps! The relationship that Saul (who later became Paul) built in prayer was so intense and rich that he preached on prayer in every single one of his letters. There is not one letter of Paul that doesn’t dwell on the necessity of prayer. Prayer is the sole mark of genuine humility. If a man doesn’t pray, he isn’t humble. If a man isn’t humble, he cannot obtain grace- For God gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6). Prayer let’s you receive grace. God freely gives grace. The essence lies in how much we are willing to receive it.
It’s like God is telling Ananias, “This is no ordinary man.. This is a praying man! I’ve been giving grace all along.. but now, Saul is receiving it!”
What a remark! If only God would say that of me! Can he say from the lofty heavens, “Behold, Martin prays!”? Can that be how God places an identity on me? What if there is so much lip-service in our church’s prayer meetings, and God is unable to find one man regarding whom he can say “Behold, he prays!”
As we traverse life and reach point after point, pass through adolescence, youth, mid-life, and reach our last days, will it be said in the hallways of heaven everytime we pray, “Behold, he prays!”?
“Behold.. He..Even he.. prays! Pause and see Ananias! ”
Almost offending, is Spurgeon’s remark on the matter of prayer. “If a man doesn’t pray, he is a monster. A man daily fed by God’s bounty, but never prays! Folly!! Sir, you are most loathsome. There is nothing more disgusting on earth than you. A man that lives without prayer, ought not to live. It is almost a wonder that earth doesn’t open up and swallow up such a wretch.”
May we all pray. And pray with hearts more than lips. Let us pray with our souls more than with our music. Prayer needs no background music score. Raw prayer needs humility. Humility comes in the absence of words, audience and background scores.
Oh! The wonder of simple prayer that pleads in humility and seeks mercy! It makes a Saul a Paul!
True revival starts from the inside of a man. We cannot expect a revival in Bangalore without us being revived first. Like how Ruth Graham said, “Revival begins when you draw a circle around yourself and make sure that everything within that circle is right with God.” That is what happened to Saul. There is no secret to how many billions of lives have been effected by the relationship Saul (who later became Paul) had with God. Revival breaks in before it breaks out.
Revival breaks in and out of prayer! There is nothing more audacious than simple, humble prayer.