Text: Acts 9:10-12
We shall not be wrong if we say that the first thing in that first prayer was humiliation and confession. It was the prayer of a broken and a contrite heart. I am quite sure that was the first thing in Paul’s prayer. You see, he had just come to realize what he had been doing with his life. It was not so long before this time that he gave his consent to the death of that remarkable young man, Stephen. It says that the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And it says that Saul was consenting unto his death. Then Saul had obtained authority from the high priest to put men and women in prison. And Paul tells us, himself, that he persecuted the church unto far distant cities. Again it says, Saul, breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the people of this Way. Thus, he had just come to realize what a great mistake he had been making. How terrible was the thing that he had been doing. What injury he had been doing to the Lord Jesus. He had been responsible in spirit and in principle for the crucifying of Christ. His sin had really nailed Jesus to the Cross.
And now he was alive to all this terrible truth. His prayer, therefore, must have commenced in deep humiliation and contrition of heart. He must have been confessing to the Lord how wrong he had been, and asking the Lord for forgiveness. You know, dear ones, that is the first element in any true prayer, the acknowledgment of our own sinfulness, the confession of how unworthy we are of the mercy of God. We can never come into the Presence of the Lord without a sense of our sinfulness. We can never stand before Him without bowed heads because of our unworthiness. No pride or self-righteousness is allowed in the Presence of God. The Word of God says, “To this one will I look, even to him that is of a broken and contrite spirit” (Isa 66:2). And I am sure that this spirit was in this man in his first prayer. I am quite sure that there were many tears shed by Paul during those three days and those three nights.
Then the second thing in that prayer, I am quite sure, must have been a spirit and attitude of surrender to the Lord. There must have been in him a spirit of absolute submission to the Lord. The complete committal of himself to the Lord Jesus. Many times after that, he called himself the prisoner of the Lord, and many times in his letter, he said, “Paul, the bondslave of Jesus Christ.” I am quite sure that it was in that first prayer that Paul took that position of the prisoner and the bondslave of Jesus Christ, with an absolute submission and surrender to Jesus as his Master. And I am sure you will agree with me that that must be a feature of all our praying. First, a confession of our own sinfulness, and then an absolute submission to the Lord Jesus, as His prisoners, and as His bondslaves.
Then there was a third thing, which I am quite sure was in this prayer of Paul’s. It was complete adjustment to the will of the Lord. Up to this time, he had followed his own will, he had allowed his own will to control his life and his actions, he had directed his own life, and he would have said, ‘My will be done.’ And we can see how thoroughly he sought to do his own will. But now, at this time, he was getting adjusted to the will of the Lord. If he did not use the actual words, I am sure this is what he meant, ‘No longer my will, but Thy will, Lord, for my life.’ That must have been a feature of this prayer; because it is so evident that from this time to the end of his life, there was only one thing for which he lived, and that was THE WILL OF THE LORD.
Now, while that has to be our attitude at the beginning of our Christian life, that must always be a feature of our prayer life. There are many ways in our Christian life where we have to get adjusted to the will of the Lord. The will of the Lord is not always an easy thing for our flesh; and so very often, we have to have a real battle to get adjusted to the will of the Lord on some particular matter; and prayer is the time in which that adjustment has to be done. It is just possible that some of us here this evening are having a battle over the will of God on something. Well, this is the time to get through with that issue. Our prayer times give us the great opportunity of getting right into line with the will of God on all matters.
Well, just collect up these things before we go any further. True prayer is the prayer of confession and humiliation! True prayer is the time of absolute committal and surrender and submission to the Lord! True prayer is the time for getting right into line with the will of God on all matters!