Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
A HEART OPEN TO HEAVEN
The main thrust of the articles contained in this issue is practical. There is an obvious reason. They spring from an exercise concerning the decline in much of assembly life in the British Isles. It is good to notice they are not decidedly critical, but practical. To be present when a once-vibrant testimony closes its doors for the last time must be a devastating experience. We face a deeply felt need for growth and development.
It could well be that some feel that we are ‘closing the stable door after the horse has bolted’. It could be that disillusionment and depression are paralysing the hope of a positive effort. You may say, ‘Just how much smaller can we get?’. A sense of responsibility and an exercise of true stewardship are truly essential. Yet, who is sufficient for these things?
Do we consider seriously how essential, consistent and believing PRAYER really is? Let’s just focus on this – a serious strategy for every local church, designed to deepen the possibilities of power and growth. All effective revivals have in some way begun with someone who prayed, often in obscurity, maybe not even known. Yet the inspiration became infectious, and the fire spread.
We think of Daniel, the man of God, the exile. The interests of his GOD and NATION were his priority. In chapter 6 we read of a pagan monarch who was trapped into forbidding the godly to pray. King and State were the great providers. They ruled by unalterable decree. But Daniel was a ‘three times a day’ man of prayer. His heart was open to heaven. He dealt with a God he knew. His enemies knew that the only way to trap him was in the ways of his God. They knew where to find him and WHAT he would be doing. They watched him. It did not take long to build their case against him.
There were two elements in this incident that were vital for him and can have a lesson for us.
DEPENDENCE. His heart was open to heaven.
DEVOTION. His windows were open to Jerusalem.
So it was that God vindicated his trust before the king and his enemies.
Are we faithful in our commitment to prayer in our assembly life?
Are these times a struggle or a strength? Fuel for power or evidence of failure? We open our hearts in DEPENDENCE on Him; He is our resource. We open our windows in our DEVOTION to His interests and desires.
What a triumph it was. The lions licked their lips in anticipation of a tasty meal! God just shut the lions’ mouths. We notice how relieved the king was!