The entry in the Book of Common Prayer for the conversion of Saint Paul can be found here. The readings are Acts 9:1-22 and Matthew 19:27-end.

Saint Paul is a wonderful example of how God can change our lives. He went from persecuting the Church to becoming the “Apostle to the Gentiles”. His zeal and loyalty to Christ were such that he submitted, following various hardships and persecutions, to martyrdom – execution by beheading, during the reign of the Emperor Nero.

Were it not for the conversion of Saint Paul, a great part of the New Testament would not exist: the Epistles written by him, and the portions of Acts that record his words and deeds. Saint Paul was instrumental in converting people to Christianity, both in his lifetime and beyond, as God has used his words, particularly in Romans, to set people on the path to Christ.

Beyond the beginning of faith, Saint Paul wrote about important doctrines and matters of church life (such as conduct of the Lord’s Supper, handling disputes between Christians, and how Christians are to interact with non-Christians). Contra some detractors who hold that Christianity as we know it today was invented in the fourth and fifth centuries AD, Saint Paul’s writings are evidence of a high Christology, a Trinitarian theology, and so forth in the first century AD. The ample quotations from the Pauline Epistles in the writings of ante-Nicene Fathers show that Saint Paul’s works were widely distributed throughout the Roman world, not merely to the immediate congregations to which they were addressed. He was held in wide regard – his writings were authoritative for orthodox Christians.

It is good to thank God for the conversion of Saint Paul and all that would flow from this momentous event. Perhaps it should also spur us to renew our prayers for the conversion of people who seem unlikely to become Christians, be they friends, family members, strangers, or people groups. God can do wondrous things. Through such conversion, others too may come to Christ, as they are persuaded of the reality and goodness of God through the testimony of changed lives. Those who earnestly seek the truth will find it. Saint Paul valued this attitude, as he strove to persuade people using both reason and miracles.

It seems appropriate to end this post with these words from the Litany:

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all men,

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

-Book of Common Prayer