"Behold, he prayeth," was the word of the Lord to Ananias to convince him that that dreaded persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, had been quickened by the Spirit. And what a mercy it is for the quickened soul that the blessed Spirit thus helps his sinking, trembling spirit, puts life and energy into his cries and sighs, holds him up and keeps him steadfast at the throne, and thus enables him to persevere with his earnest suings for mercy, mingles faith with his petitions, and himself most graciously and kindly intercedes within him and for him with groanings which cannot be uttered. This is "praying with the spirit" (1 Cor. 14:15) and "in the Holy Ghost" (Jude 20). This is pouring out the heart before God (Psalm 62:8), pouring out the soul before the Lord (1 Sam. 1:15); and by this free discharge of the contents of an almost bursting heart, sensible relief is given to the burdened spirit.
By this special mark, the convictions of a quickened soul are distinguished from the pangs of guilt and remorse which are sometimes aroused in the natural conscience. Cain said, "My punishment is greater than I can bear," but there was neither repentance nor prayer in his heart; for "he went out from the presence of the Lord "—the very presence which the living soul is seeking to reach and be found in, and into which the Spirit brings him (Eph. 2:18). Saul was "sore distressed," when God answered him, "neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets," but he goes to the witch of Endor, and in the end falls upon his own sword. Judas repented himself of his accursed treachery, but went and hanged himself. No prayer, no supplication was in either of their hearts.
So it is prophesied that men shall gnaw their tongues for pain, and yet shall blaspheme the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and not repent of their deeds (Rev. 16:10, 11). But the elect cry day and night unto God; and their prayers, perfumed with the incense of their all-prevailing Intercessor at the right hand of the Father, enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.