The apostle Paul is not introduced in the New Testament history in a very flattering way. In Acts 8:1, he is giving agreement to the stoning death of Stephen, the first martyr. of messianic faith. Then, Paul takes center stage once again, as he makes his way to Damascus to arrest and bring back to Jerusalem Jewish disciples of “the way” (G-τῆς ὁδοῦ, H-הדרך).
Luke, the author of Acts, makes a rather interesting statement in Acts 9:1, “Paul, still breathing threats and murder against…” By writing “still breathing threats,” Luke is indicating that Paul’s mission of hunting down Jewish disciples of Messiah went on for a lengthy period, his anger at this Jewish movement, then called “the way,” had not cooled.
Still, as I read the conversion of Paul (Acts 9:1-9), I cannot help but what was happening in the background.
The Book of Acts is careful to record that the early messianic community was a prayerful community, often praying for hours, praying and believing that God would answer them. Praying, perhaps with the words of Yeshua/Jesus in mind, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk. 9:23). Paul posed a significant threat to this community, and for some, he was an obstacle to faith. Yet, I cannot help but think that some Jewish believers would have applied the words of Messiah to Paul, “pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).
Nevertheless, to pray for Paul, a man so committed to wickedness, that God would save him probably seemed impossible . Still, I believe someone prayed for this, and, as we know, that prayer was answered.
There are times when we are part of a prayer group, and in a moment of weakness, react negatively to what is being prayed for: perhaps it seems impossible, perhaps we can’t see any way that it could be fulfilled; but, that’s what faith is for: to believe God, even for what seems impossible to us.
Dear reader, the Jewish disciples that Paul was pursuing had no recourse but to pray fervently to the Lord for relief regarding him. They could not go to the authorities, they could not attack Paul directly; but they could pray believing for what seemed impossible.
Many of us are facing things that seem impossible, but in faith, God makes everything probable. Someone or many someones prayed for Paul, the persecutor of messianic faith, who has been, for the last 2000 years its most prominent voice. Glory to God, prayer does wondrous things.
Maybe the Lord will use you to pray for the impossible. Perhaps He is prompting someone to pray for your impossible right now.
Be well. Shalom.