Behold, He Prayeth

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Acts 9:8-12 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, 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, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

Opening Illustration: I was reading in the Baptist and Reflector recently the article “Congress Remains Largely Christian Despite Societal Trends”. The article said:

At least 88 percent of Congress – 469 of the 534 members – identified as Christian in the poll of the current 118th legislative body that is predominantly Protestant, Pew said in its analysis of poll results gathered by Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call, with only one member identifying as religiously unaffiliated.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel reassured. If 88% of Congress is “Christian”, then why did both houses affirm same sex marriage in spite of clear Biblical statements against this? If 88% of Congress is “Christian”, why do we see so much behavior that is clearly unChristian. I submit to you that there is a difference between religious person and Christian. A person is not right with God because they say they are Christian. A person is not right with God because they self identify as a Christian.

When John the Baptist saw the Pharisees and Sadducees flocking to his baptism, John didn’t commend them for being there. Instead John said (and we need more preaching like this today):

Matthew 3:7-8 {my paraphrase} … O generation of VIPERS, Who has warned you to flee from the wrath {of God} that is to come? BEAR FRUIT in keeping with repentance…”

What makes a snake a VIPER? It is the MOUTH. If you are a Christian, God will change your MOUTH.
The “born again” are MADE by & DRAWN to PRAYER.

A “Viper” cannot walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). A viper has no hands nor feet to do good. God saves us through our mouths, and grows us through our mouths.

How did YOU get saved? You PRAYED!
You called on Heaven.
You REPENTED, turning away from yourself.
You CRIED OUT to God.
Prayer is the key to Heaven’s Gate.

Romans 10:9-13 (ESV) if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

You callED on the name of the Lord. This is prayer. Like Peter, you cried out, “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). You prayed. Prayer is the heart cry of the saved. Prayer is the crying of the newly born again. Prayer is the breath of Heaven. You PRAYED to be saved. You PRAYED to Heaven in the name of Jesus Christ. Biblically there is no particular “Sinner’s Prayer” that is the key to salvation. The Spirit of God opened your eyes, and you prayed. You “called upon the Name of the Lord”, and because of that were saved.

Once saved, God changed your heart. Changing your heart, God leads you as Christians to:

Romans 12:9-12 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

I believe one of the key characteristics of the Christian – the mark of genuineness – is that they PRAY. Prayer is not a Sunday morning thing, but a daily thing for the Christian.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

And our Lord said in Luke 18:1 that we ought ALWAYS TO PRAY and not lose heart. C.H. Spurgeon on today’s focal text said:

For behold, he (Saul) prays is a surer witness of a man’s conversion that “Behold, he sings” or, “Behold, he reads the Scripture”, or “Behold, he preaches … when a man really prays we may know for sure he has passed from death to life.”

God Will Only Use Those Who Genuinely Pray

Let’s consider a “certain disciple named Ananias”. Ananias was a praying man.

Acts 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said,

Behold, I am here, Lord.

Prayer is not just giving our demands to God. Yes, we may come to God for our needs. We should …

Hebrews 4:16 … come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing our needs to God. But the primary part of prayer is to please and glorify our Lord. How did Jesus teach us to pray? Was it …

Our Father, which art in Heaven …. give US this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts … deliver us from evil .. Amen

This is how most people pray. We pray without regard to the glory and majesty of God. Jesus taught us to pray thusly:

Matthew 6:9-10 …. Our Father which art in Heaven, {listen to this} HALLOWED BE THY NAME. THY KINGDOM COME, {not mine, but THINE} THY WILL BE DONE, in earth as it is in Heaven

We pray the GLORY of GOD before we pray for His GIFTS.

Ananias was praying. A big part of prayer is to listen for God’s Voice. And then Jesus called:

Ananias” (vs 10)

Ananias is not shocked that Jesus is talking to him. Jesus said,

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me …

God makes His Voice known to His Children. Jesus speaks, and Ananias is listening. Without a hitch he responds:

Behold, I am here, LORD” (vs 10)

Behold: I love it. There’s that BEHOLD again. You need to pay attention to the BEHOLDS of Scripture. Behold, I am here Lord. I await your direction. What do YOU want ME to DO?

God will use those who pray, but He will never use the person who does not pray. Do you want to be used of God? Then pray. Seek His Presence. Seek His Voice. Seek His Word. Tell God, “I am here LORD. What do YOU want me to do?” God speaks to Ananias:

Acts 9:11 … Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas {not Iscariot. Judas Iscariot NEVER prayed} for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

Here’s another BEHOLD of Scripture. Ananias is praying, “BEHOLD, I am here, LORD”. Now God tells Ananias to go where Saul, of Tarsus is praying.

behold, he prayeth

Jesus knows the HOUSE Saul is praying in.
He is calling Heaven from the HOUSE OF JUDAS.
Jesus knows the STREET that Saul is praying on.
Saul is on STRAIGHT Street.
Saul hasn’t always been on STRAIGHT Street.

This is the SECOND TIME Saul has prayed. When Jesus knocked him down on the Damascus Road, Saul prayed, saying:

Acts 9:5-6 Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. {you make it hard on yourself when you kick against the ox goad} 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Proper Prayer Gets The Attention Of Heaven

For years Saul had been religious, a Pharisee of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were known for their prayers. They prayed in the Synagogue. They prayed in the Temple. If the Pharisee was crossing the street and it was “Prayer Time”, he would stop and pray in the midst of traffic. Jesus spoke about the Pharisees when He said:

Matthew 6:5 … when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

The hypocrites or the Pharisees like Saul loved to pray being seen of men. They didn’t care if Heaven saw them, but they sure enjoyed the accolade they received. Those who knew Saul of Tarsus might say, “Yes, that Pharisee is a praying man”. But no, he wasn’t.

Saul had seen praying men. As Stephen was stoned to death, he heard that dear saint say …

Acts 7:56 … BEHOLD, I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man {Jesus} standing on the right hand of God …

As Stephen was beaten to death with rock after rock, his blood spattering like a red shower on their clothing, Stephen did not curse them. Saul heard Stephen pray:

Acts 7:60 Lord, lay not this sin to their charge

Saul’s prayers were Pharisee prayers. They were like the Pharisee who stood in the Temple praying:

Luke 18:11 … God I thank thee I am not as other men are

Heaven does not hear self righteous, pride filled prayers.
Prayer is a conversation between an adopted child and a Heavenly Father.

Prayer is the heart-cry of the clay to the Potter.
Prayer is the bleat of the sheep to the Shepherd.

The prayer that God hears comes from the living, not the spiritually dead. God is the God of the living, not of the dead” (Mark 12:27). God does not hear the prayers that are rote. What prayer does God hear? God hears the HUMBLE prayer. He hears the salvation cry of the Publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner(Luke 18:13).

How will Ananias know Saul? How do Christians know one another? The answer is in:

Behold, he prayeth, (vs 11)

Saul’s prayers as a Pharisee were self righteous. Now as he prays he is God focused.

Acts 9:9 …. {Saul} was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

The center of Saul’s prayers are no longer Saul, nor the accolade of others. Saul’s prayers are now God focused, Christ centered.

1 God hears prayers that glorify Him:

John 14:13-14 whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Prayer is in the name of Jesus, for the glory of God, and in the power of the Spirit of God. Saul rejected the name of Jesus, and his prayers were never prayers in the eyes of God.

2 God hears prayers that are humble, not self righteous:

1 Peter 5:5-6 … be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

James 4:6 …. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

Prayer is not where we tell God what to do. Prayer is where we cry out to God as children saved by Grace. In what other ways had Saul never prayed?

Acts 8:3 Saul made havock of the Church, entering into every house, and {binding} men and women, committed them to prison …

3 God hears prayers that come from love and lift up others, not hateful prayers:

Matthew 5:43-48 … Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Saul never prayed for his enemies, these Christians, but sought to capture and commit as many as he could. When Saul had captured as many Christians as he could in Jerusalem, he went back to the High Priest and sought warrants to destroy the Church in Damascus.

When Jesus taught us the “Lord’s Prayer”, He told us:

Matthew 6:14-15 … if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

You Partner With God Through Prayer

Jesus tells Ananias:

Acts 9:11-12 … 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, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

Saul will not receive his sight until Ananias goes to him. God told Ananias, behold, he prayeth. He is not as he was, but has been changed by his encounter with Jesus. Ananias – though not disobedient – shares his fear with God.

Does anyone here get scared besides me? Has anyone here been frightened and lost as to what to do? So often I cry out, God help me. So often I plead the Blood over my broken life.

Ananias prays:

Acts 9:13-14 … Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

God listens to Ananias, and then comforts his fears. He says:

Acts 9:15-16 … Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.

Had Ananias not done as Jesus decreed, I am sure that the Lord would have chosen another. But what if no one would go to Saul? What if every Christian said, “He’s just TOO BAD to be saved”? There is no one too bad that Christ will not save them. If we would pray, and seek His face, He will save.

As I read this text it occurred to me that Jesus includes us in His glorious plan of salvation as we pray. Because Ananias was a praying man, Jesus used him to reach out to Saul. Saved by Grace, Saul became truly a praying man. Once Ananias came to Saul, we read that he put his hands on Saul and said:

Acts 9:17 … Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

God used prayer and obedience to reach Saul. The enemy of Christianity “preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (vs 20). God can use those who pray. I want to end with these words from C.H. Spurgeon:

Urge the people to more prayer. Have a prayer meeting, even if you have it all to yourself. And if you are asked how many were present, you can say, “Four.” “Four! how so?” “Why, there was myself, and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, and we have had a rich and real communion together.” We must have an outpouring of real devotion or else what is to become of many of our churches? Oh! may God awaken us all and stir us up to pray, for when we pray, we shall be victorious. I should like to take you, this morning, as Samson did the foxes, tie the firebrands of prayer to you, and send you in among the shocks of corn till you burn the whole up. I should like to make a conflagration by my words and set all the churches on fire till the whole has smoked like a sacrifice to God’s throne. If you pray, you have 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.”

If the Church will continue in America, we must come away from cultural Christianity and return to prayer. Mere motion will no longer suffice. We need the power of God if we are going to lead souls to Christ. My prayer is that God will draw us as His Church into His plan fore His glory.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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