Today’s guest post comes from my good friend, Walter Rooks. Walter is currently serving as an Air Operations specialist in Afghanistan, but he is also a certified John Maxwell speaker, coach and trainer (what he calls “his true calling in life”). You can read more of his work on his blog, Journey of a Lifetime. If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
The book of Acts is definitely titled appropriately. It speaks of ACTION. I always thought of it as a sort of demonstration of how to live this Christian life.
One account in chapter 10 stands out to me – the account of Cornelius.
"Now there was a certain man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually.
About the 9th hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in to him, and said to him, 'Cornelius!'
And fixing his gaze upon him and being much alarmed, he said, 'What is it, Lord?' And he said, 'Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now dispatch some men to Joppa, and send for a man named Simon who is called Peter..."
Without quoting the entire chapter, the passage goes on to tell how Peter was praying at the 6th hour the next day and fell into a trance while preparing to eat. In the trance Peter saw all kinds of four footed animals and birds and creatures that God said "kill and eat." But, Peter being devout to the law of Moses said "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unclean."
Cornelius' men located Peter and asked him to come to the centurion's house and in the end, the centurion and his household were baptized and Peter understood that "in every nation the man who fears HIM and does what it right is welcome to HIM." vs 34.
I read this numerous times and saw a translation that further opened this up for me. It mentions how Cornelius was a man who prayed to God continually. It even appeared that he was praying at the set times the Jewish people prayed.
When I thought of praying continually, I thought of the Agpeya which helps us to have a life of continual prayer. And this is a newer experience for me being, well, new to orthodoxy.
But like the centurion, especially as an ex-soldier, I welcome certain disciplines in my life. Maybe this helps me to do as Paul the apostle when he said, "I bring my body under subjection." (1 Corinthians 9:27). It certainly helps my spirit.
The other thing that is mentioned several times is Cornelius giving alms which are acts of mercy and pity. I know the Bible speaks many times about giving to the poor and taking care of widows and orphans and lending to God etc... but while really looking into this account I realized that to quote another translation, the Angel said "Cornelius, your prayers and acts of charity have gone up into God's presence, so that He has you on His mind." (Complete Jewish Bible).
In my mind's eye, I could see God upon the throne, thunder and lightning, billows of clouds. Life and death occurring. Looking upon man and his condition, creating and establishing and tearing down. Doing all of the things God does that we cannot even fathom and then...Cornelius.
Winds blowing and storms raging. People saved and touched by God himself and...Cornelius.
Numerous prayers going up before God as incense and...Cornelius.
I learned that by being prayerful and merciful we are on God's mind. And I know God is merciful on those who aren't doing this but, I am motivated to be a man of continual prayer and one who gives. I need desperately to be on God's mind and I do it with intention.
Even in this particular storm I am going through as I write this, I purposefully and with intention pray. I look for ways to give and alleviate others burdens. He's all I've got. I want my life to be a sweet savor in the nostrils of God.
I so need Him.
We all do.