“For behold he prayeth”—Acts 9:11 NLT
The LORD said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now.”
God has many methods of dealing with the persecution of His people
He will not tolerate his church to be injured by its enemies, or overwhelmed by its foes; and he is not short of means for turning aside the way of the wicked
In two ways he usually accomplishes his end; sometimes by the confusion of the persecutor, and at others by his conversion.
God can transform the foe into a friend; he makes the man who was a warrior against the gospel a soldier for it.
Out of darkness he brings out light;
out of stony hearts he raises up children unto Abraham.
Such was the case with Saul.
A more furious bigot it is impossible to imagine
He had been exposed to the the blood of Stephen, when they stoned him to death; so officious was he in his cruelty, that the men left their clothes with Saul
Living at Jerusalem, in the college of Gamaliel, he came in contact with the disciples of Jesus; Saul laughed at them, he reviled them as they passed along the street; he put them to death; and now, as a crowning point, determines to go to Damascus, that he may bind the Christians, and bring them to Jerusalem, there to suffer what he considered to be a just punishment for their heresy, and departure from their ancient religion.
But oh, how marvelous was the power of God!
Jesus stays this man in his mad career; just as with his lance in rest he was dashing against Christ. Christ met him, unhorsed him, threw him on the ground, and questioned him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
He then graciously removed his rebellious heart—gave him a new heart and a right spirit—turned his aim and object—led him to Damascus—laid him prostrate for three days and nights—spoke to him—set his whole soul on fire; and began to pray,
Jesus came in a vision to Ananias, and said, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus; for, behold, he prayeth.”
#1: an announcement; “Behold, he prayeth.”
“Go to the house of Saul of Tarsus for behold he prayeth”
Saul was crying for mercy ~ and God heard his plea
Prayer moves the heart of God
God knew the street where Saul was staying “street called Straight”
God knew the house “inquire at the house of Judas”
God knew the prayer’s name “Saul of Tarsus”
Prayers are NOTICED in heaven
Where ever there is a tear flowing ~ a lip quivering ~ a groan ~ a sigh
The ear of God is open
Isaiah 65:24 NIV
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
Luke 10:21 NLT At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way
The good shepherd REJOICES when he brings a wanderer home
But nothing ring the bells of heaven generate more joy than the conversion of a sinner ~ how much we are loved by God
Notice the extent God goes to to soften a sinners heart and bring him to repentance
Think of praying like breathing ~ expressing our heart ~ honestly to God
Before we welcome God into our heart ~ we were lost in our trespasses and sins ~ but we are brought to life ~ through the power of the Spirit
Ananias totally amazed “This is so wrong ~ out of all the horrible people in all the world ~ you wound up at my house”
GET THIS: Saul would go to the temple twice a day ~ at the hour of prayer ~ and pray ~ beautifully ~ Luke 18:10-14 ~ “I am not as other men are ~ I am not an extortioner ~ not a publican ~ I fast twice in the week ~ and give tithes of all I possess”
What changed? What did he pray that he had never prayed before ~ nothing ~ it was not the prayer
Matthew 6:7 don’t pray vain shallow repetitions
God sits on his throne ~ silent ~ indifferent ~ paying no attention
LESSON: 1 unspoken tear moves the heart of God ~ more than 10,000 repetitive shallow rituals
One prayer coming from your soul is more powerful than a volume of loud public religious rants
argument; “For, behold, he prayeth.”
Ananias was afraid to go to Saul ~ like stepping in the lions den
The moment he sees me ~ he will arrest me for being a follower of Jesus
However ~ if he is praying ~ that is enough for me ~ I trust a praying man
He who communes with God in secret ~ may be trusted i public
That was the argument that won Ananias over ~ that he would be safe in Saul’s house
(B) argument for Paul’s sincerity
LESSON: secret prayer is one of the best tests of sincere religion
If God would’ve said “Behold he preaches” ~ Ananias would’ve rolled his eyes
If God would’ve said, “Behold he goes to church” ~ Ananias would’ve ran the other way
But prayer ~ a sign of life ~ spiritual life ~ of mind & heart change
#3: an application of our text to your hearts.
“Behold, he prays,” that was argument enough.
Calvin has repeatedly told people that have come to him with concerns ~ go home ~ pray about it for 1 week ~ then come back and we will discuss it ~ they NEVER come back (a) don’t pray (b) pray & change
When we truly pray ~ it ends up sounding. Like “Lord, have mercy upon me a sinner; I am the greatest of sinners; have mercy upon me!”
The mere reading of a book of daily devotion will not prove you a child of God;
BUT if you pray in private, then you have a sincere religion;
Praying will make you leave off sinning, or sinning will make you leave off praying.
If any one should ask me for an epitome of the Christian religion, I should say it is in that one word—”prayer.”
During the great persecution of Christians ~ a man stood before the court and was convicted of being a Christian ~ “any last words?” YES ~ I would like to pray
As he prayed ~ the record shows that the judge muttered ~ no one prays like that unless he has spent a lifetime praying ~ his prayer convicted him”
“What is the whole Christian experience?” answer, “prayer.”
Believers the best mark of our being followers of God ~ is to be found in our devotion?
the more we are found in prayer the brighter the EVIDENCE of our FAITH will be?
When you search your heart ~ do you feel you have LOST your confidence in your walk with God?
I will tell you where you lost your confidence—you lost it in your PRIVATE PRAYER TIME
I have stood up to preach ~ without fire or energy
I have read the Bible ~ and saw no light
I have tried to pray ~ but felt a failure
KNOW where I LOST IT? in my PRIVATE PRAYER TIME with God
The reason we have not more true religion now, is because we have not more prayer.
How can Christians live with 1 foot in the world and 1 foot in the church?
A lack of PRIVATE PRAYER TIME
Can God bless us, can he pour out his Spirit upon us, while HIS people IGNORE their private time with HIM in prayer ?
May God awaken us all, and stir us up to pray, for when we pray we shall be victorious.
If you pray, you have a proof that you are a Christian; the less you pray, the less reason have you to believe your Christianity;
and if you have neglected to pray altogether, then you have ceased to breathe, and you may be afraid that you never did breathe at all.