Silver-streaked beams of moon light dimly illuminated the tiny prison cell, casting eerie night shadows across the damp stone walls. A sudden scraping of metal abruptly woke the slumbering prison guard. Peering in through the crude steel bars, the solider sought the condition of his charge. Each night it was just as perplexing as the next there he was again - chained to the cold wall with rats and other nocturnal creatures probing relentlessly for a morsel amongst putrid bodily wastes and refuse, but still the man kneeled in earnest prayer.
The prisoner Paul was indeed an enigma to Arrius. Praying, writing, praying, writingthat's his whole existence! Not at all like the other inmates -- men possessed with rage, despair, madness, the prison guard pondered as he studied the man absorbed in deep petition.
Unintelligible words interspersed with intelligible, escaped Paul's lips. Tears coursed down his cheeks, soaking his soiled garment. The passion of the man's prayer astounded Arrius, who habitually, indifferently mimicked age-old incantations to his household idols, feigning devotion and loyalty to gods he knew to be fraudulent.
Arrius strained to hear as Paul began to pray in the Hebraic dialect
"I bow my knees to You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. I pray that You would grant the Galatian believers, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with might by Your Spirit in their inner man" Paul stretched out his hands, lifting his face towards the heavens.
Arrius brought the torch closer to see Paul's face glowing with an unnatural light. The prison guard was unaware of the angelic host surrounding Paul, strengthening him, guiding his prayers.
"that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith, that they would be rooted and grounded in Your lovethat they may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and heightto know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fullness of God"
Paul fell silent for a long time, his face revealing a posture of listening. Arrius starred in astonishment, goose bumps erupting on his skin as a tangible spiritual atmosphere invaded the prison cell. Paul was receiving supernatural revelation. Arrius was startled seeing the force of purpose in Paul's eyes as he rose from his knees. Love's fiery passion? What was it compelling him? Arrius tried to fathom Paul's emotion as he watched him grope in the dimly lit cell for parchment and quill.
Once again Arrius strained to hear as Paul mouthed the words in rasped-breath as the quill scratched across the paper.
"My dear childrenfor whom I am again in the pains of childbirth" Paul began to groan as if in mortal agony, holding his belly as he cried out loudly in pain.
"Until Christ is formed in you" he whispered hoarsely with great difficulty, terrible sobs racking his entire body. Arrius watched, stunned as Paul forced himself to capture the inspired words on the parchment.
Arrius fought the urgent impulse to enter the cell and assist Paul, but he instinctively knew that this prisoner was in the hands of his Godand just as he had observed on numerous occasions, it was far more prudent to allow the man of God to wrestle in prayerto write to care for the sheep in his care.
Based on Galatians 4:19. NIV.
Karen Elengikal is an inspirational, published writer from Sydney, Australia. Karen's first book 'Kidz Battle Zone' was released in 2007. (see FW Book Review).