The Perfect, All-Inclusive Prayer
I’m not one who memorizes scripture easily. To just pick out random verses and expect my brain to retain them doesn’t work well for me. I am fully convinced that getting the Word into me is vital to keeping me healthy spiritually. So, I just keep reading and over time, verses eventually stick.
But there’s that occasional passage that catches your eye while reading. When it happens, your heart immediately says, “whoa there!” and without any effort at all, it’s embedded.
Acts 26:18 in the Amplified is one such verse. I happened upon it over a year ago, and it is still my absolute go-to verse I pray for America. For me, it is the perfect, all-inclusive prayer for the unsaved (and for us who are determined to stay on course)—second only to Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done (Matthew 6:10).
Paul has been taken prisoner for sharing his faith. Per his request, he is allowed to stand before King Agrippa and defend his case. In doing so, he recounts the details of his conversion and the call placed upon him to reach the Gentiles. “. . . To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me (vs18).
Is there a more-comprehensive prayer we could be praying today?
To open their eyes.
I remember the days when my eyes were closed—purposefully closed. My mother had become a Christian and was determined that her children would follow in her footsteps. Needless to say, her tireless efforts to persuade us . . . well, they became tiresome. Her words fell on deaf ears. We just couldn’t see the need for change when according to our youthful filters, life was good. For this nation’s heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed . . . (Matthew 13:15). I thank God for my mother’s tenacity and prayers because they finally paid off. Blinders were finally lifted, our eyes opened.
. . . that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. What more needs to be said? The message of repentance is throughout the Bible. If we skip this vital step of turning (in repentance), we remain in bondage to darkness and miss everything freedom and light. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
So that they may thus receive forgiveness . . .
Not a momentary flash-in-the-pan forgiveness and then we’re right back in the throes of living sinful lifestyles. We don't need forgiveness a thousand times over so we can keep indulging our sins. But . . . release from their sin. Release, where lives are genuinely changed. People become new creations in Christ. The old is passed away and all becomes new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Like our friend, David Hairabedian explains—no more following rules and living a life of abstinence, but true liberty in Christ where the cord of iniquity is broken.
Are we perfected yet? No. But definitely changed. Those who have experienced that change know exactly what I’m talking about.
. . . and (that they may receive) a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me.
To go from separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part in Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel . . . strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messianic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God’s agreements, His covenants] and having no hope (no promise) . . . (Ephesians 2:12)—to having a place and portion in God’s kingdom. And not just a portion in His kingdom, but God Himself as our portion (Lamentations 3:24)! What better honor could we hope for?
This world may hold us in low regard, but God doesn’t. We are: are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9).
So, a year has come and gone since Acts 26:18 grabbed me. And I’m still at it, still praying for this scripture to be fulfilled. As far as I'm concerned, it’s the perfect, all-inclusive prayer for everyone we truly care about.