“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.’  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 prays’.”

Acts 9:10-11

Whether it be the last day of the year or the first, may this also be said of us.

“Behold, he prays.”

Ananias, whose name means “God is gracious,” was already a disciple of Christ when today’s Manna occurred.  We know little else about him other than what we read in vv.10-19, but what we do know is a beautiful picture of love, surrender and faith in the face of fear.

Damascus, the oldest continually-inhabited city in the world and located northeast of the Sea of Galilee and Mt. Hermon in northern Palestine, is mentioned frequently throughout the Old Testament.  Founded by Uz, the grandson of Shem, it was one of the cities Abraham passed through on his way from Ur to Canaan (Gen. 11:31; 12:4) and was the home of Eliezer, Abraham’s faithful servant (Gen. 15:2).

But, none of its references in Scripture is more noteworthy than this beautiful story of Ananias’ encounter with Saul of Tarsus, this one who so severely persecuted the early followers of the Risen Lord.  It’s clear Ananias knew his reputation (vv.13-14) and likely feared for his own life.  However, when Jesus told him what had happened (vv.11-12) and how He would use him (vv.15-16), the trusting servant immediately went his way, found the broken, blind Saul, laid hands on him and tenderly called him “Brother Saul” (v.17a).

Is not this a beautiful picture of how Christ’s Love breaks down barriers and “casts out fear” (I Jn. 4:18)?  Glory!!

But, just as beautiful are those three words “Behold, he prays.”

Nothing is mentioned to him of what happened on the road to Damascus (vv.1-7).  Nothing is mentioned of his eyes being blinded by the Light (v.8).  Instead, Ananias was simply told where to find him on Straight Street and he’d recognize him because he was praying.

Dear Pilgrim, wouldn’t you have loved to have been there to hear Paul’s prayers?  What do you think he was praying about?  His lost eyesight?  His guilt over having persecuted all those saints of the Savior?  Or, was he simply engaged in “communion-conversation” with the Lord Jesus, thanking Him for extending to him the “gift of Grace” and showing him “a more excellent way” (I Cor. 12:31; Heb. 10:19-22)?

It really doesn’t matter, does it?

No, what matters is Paul’s prayers were no more proud, pious, Pharisaical prayers that impressed those who listened; instead, they were heartfelt petitions that flowed from the depths of his soul.  And, we can rest assured they were accompanied by “strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save him from death and were heard because he feared” (Heb. 5:7b).  May we end this year and enter the new one—if the Lord graciously allows us to do so—with it also being true of us, “Behold, he/she prays.”

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated December 31, 2009

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