Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Partnering in Prayer - A Lenten Devotion - Day 1 - Ash Wednesday

Day 1 – Ash Wednesday

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered (Acts 9:10).

This morning, my devotions led me to Acts chapter 9—the story of Saul’s conversion and Ananias’ obedience. God used Ananias in a mighty way, working both physical healing and spiritual renewal in Saul’s life. Through his touch, the wayward Pharisee became a follower of Christ, and the greatest missionary the world has known. What was it that made Ananias’ prayer life so powerful?

First, the Bible calls Ananias a disciple (verse 10). We know he wasn’t one of the original 12 apostles of our Lord, but he was a disciple nonetheless. A disciple is a student, one who sits at the feet of the master and learns, not only to think like him, but to be like him. Ananias was more than a believer—he was someone who tried to live like Jesus. The prayer life of a true disciple is going to be powerful and effective, because a disciple is constantly seeking God.
Second, Ananias says, “Here I am, Lord (v. 10).” He makes himself available to God. It’s very easy for us to pray that somebody else will do God’s work. It’s something else entirely to make ourselves ready to respond. Those who are ready to respond to God see great things happen.

Third, Ananias uses his brain—something we’re all meant to do. Granted, he argues with the Lord, but let’s put that aside for a minute. Ananias carefully thinks through his mission. He considers what he has to do, and reflects on its potential outcome. God likes it when we pray with our spirit, but He also likes it when we use our minds. He doesn’t want to go off half-cocked, trusting his feelings. He wants to be sure. Notice, the Lord never chastises Ananias for his reply. God simply repeats the instructions.

Finally, Ananias is obedient. He follows God’s instructions to the letter. Because of his obedience, Paul is blessed—and the rest of the church through him. Through this, God shows us that we can pray all we want, but until we’re obedient, God isn’t pleased with our prayers. When we are obedient, God does mighty things.

Ash Wednesday is all about conversion. Saul was converted to Paul, by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. But before he could be truly converted, Ananias had to be converted to God’s will. As you pray, ask God to convert you to His will. Ask Him to make you a disciple, to make you available, to help you use your mind, and to be obedient to Him.


The seat of our disease, says Helmut Thielicke, “is not in the branches of our nerves at all but rather in our roots which are stunted and starved.” The eloquent German points out that Martin Luther prayed four hours each day, “not despite his busy life but because only so could he accomplish his gigantic labors.” Luther worked so hard that a little desultory praying would not suffice. “To work without praying and without listening,” continues Thielicke, “means only to grow and spread oneself upward, without striking roots and without an equivalent in the earth.” Trees can grow well in rocky soil, as I can attest by looking out the window of my mountain writing cabin, but they do this only by finding crevices in the rocks where the roots are able to penetrate deeply.”--From The New Man for Our Time by Elton Trueblood

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