Acts 9:9-19a (ESV)
And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.
The dialogue between Ananias and the Lord is so profound, it’s easy to miss the drama of what’s happening to Saul. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
We know his conversion experience on the road to Damascus was about as powerful as anything you can imagine, but the next three days may be more significant. In today’s passage we find out what he’s been doing for those three days – other than not eating or drinking. He is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.
Praying and fasting often go hand in hand. Saul is doing exactly the right thing in response to history greatest wake-up call. A three-day praying fast is just what the doctor ordered.
As Saul went deeper and deeper with the Lord, he made an important connection; God told him that his blindness would not be permanent. Furthermore, just to freeze the message clearly in Saul’s mind, God told him the name of the guy who would restore his sight.
So Paul is precluded from, at a later date, thinking, “Did I really …? Nah.” Any time doubt creeps into his mind, he can recall that he knew, in advance, who would restore his sight and how they would do it.
That’s faith, baby.
Long prayer sessions are powerful in ways beyond our comprehension. I’ve only done one and it changed my life. As an exercise in the Navigators “Design for Discipleship” series, I spent a day in prayer. That night, in the middle of the night, I woke up with the solution to a math problem I didn’t know was solvable. That solution made my career.
I cannot recommend a day in prayer too strongly. Four hours is all I gave it that fateful day in 1987.
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