Thursday, September 11, 2008

IN THE SECRET PLACE

The Holy Ghost came to a godly man living in Damascus named Ananias. The Spirit instructed Ananias to go to Judas’ house on Straight Street, lay hands on Saul and restore his sight.

Of course, Ananias knew of Saul’s reputation and he realized this was going to be dangerous. Yet, here is how the Holy Spirit recommended Saul to Ananias: “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:11).

The Lord was saying, in essence, “Ananias, you will find this man on his knees. He knows you are coming. He even knows your name, and why you’re being sent to him. He wants his eyes opened.”

When did Saul receive this inner knowing? How did he receive this vision, this pure word from God? It came through fervent prayer and supplication. In fact, I believe the Spirit’s words to Ananias reveal what moved God’s heart about Saul: “Behold, he prayeth.”

Saul had been shut in with God for three days, refusing all food and water. All he wanted was the Lord. So he continued on his knees all that time, praying and seeking God.

When I was growing up, my preacher father taught me, “God always makes a way for a praying man.” There have been periods in my life when the Lord has provided indisputable evidence of this. I was called to preach at eight years of age, when the Holy Spirit came upon me. I wept and prayed, crying out, “Fill me, Lord Jesus.” Later as a teenager I prayed until the Spirit came upon me in divine intensity.

As a young pastor a deep hunger rose up in me that caused me to pray diligently. Something in my heart told me, “There’s more to serving Jesus than what I am doing.” So I spent months on my knees—weeping and praying for hours at a time—when finally the Lord called me to go to New York City to minister to gangs and drug addicts.

I was also on my knees twenty years ago, seeking God with tears and loud crying, when he called me back to New York to start a church in Times Square.

If I have ever heard from God—if I have any revelation of Christ, any measure of the mind of Christ—it came not through Bible study alone. It came through prayer. It came from seeking God in the secret place.