By Jill Briscoe
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. ~ Acts 16:13 (NLT)
Lydia, a Jewish proselyte, a seller of expensive purple cloth, was accustomed to going to the place by the river where the Jews met for prayer and joining the worshipers. We learn that she “worshiped God” (Acts 16:14).
We also can learn a valuable lesson about the sort of prayers God heeds and answers. Lydia was heard by God. Prayer precedes conversion; God hears the prayers of a grandmother concerned for her grandchild, a husband concerned for an unbelieving wife, or simply the concern of the person praying for himself—as in Lydia’s or Cornelius’s case. It’s important to encourage people who are seeking a relationship with God to pray, because prayer also prepares the heart to receive the living Word of God. Paul, having had a vision of a man from Macedonia asking him to “come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9), found instead a woman who was waiting to listen at the place where prayer was made. He lost no time sitting down and explaining the gospel to Lydia. I love Paul’s flexibility!
Prayer truly prepares the heart. The Lord opened Lydia’s understanding, and she “accepted what Paul was saying.” After she and her household were converted, she begged Paul and his friends to stay with her. The beautiful story of Lydia reaffirms our belief in the power of prayer. We are reminded that prayer precedes conversion, prepares the heart, and stimulates us to ministry.
Lord, thank You for the privilege of approaching You in prayer, and for answering my prayers with Your strength and power. Help me to always continue to pray, and to encourage other believers and seekers to keep praying. Amen.
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