We are starting the New Year 2010 with a WEEK OF PRAYER here at the NAZ. I felt it was very appropriate to focus on God at the beginning of a New Year. It is my heart’s desire to see God move in our congregation, to see lives miraculously changed by his grace and His kingdom advanced in our Community and our Country. All this can only be achieved through prayer. But I have learned by experience that true prayer always starts with my own heart. Looking back on my life, I can see how many prayers of mine went unanswered because I wanted God to do something great out there: in my church, in other people’s lives, in my family… while God was waiting for me to get right with him and let him start changing my own heart. My prayers have changed a lot over the years, as has the focus of my attention. My greatest desire now is not so much for God to do something great out there, but for him to do something great in me. I long for a humble heart, a heart full of the fear of the Lord, an obedient heart, a sensitive heart, a loving heart, a heart full of joy and peace and compassion; a heart that would be a dwelling place for the Most High.
A story that I found in a little booklet by Pastor Jim Cymbala* wonderfully illustrates this point. It is called THE MAN WITH A HUMBLE HEART. Pastor Cymbala writes:
“I was about seven years old when an unusual man of God spoke at the midweek service of the small church my parents were attending. His name was Howard Goss, and I will never forget the impression he left on my young heart. Howard Goss didn’t rant and rave to make his point. Nor did he use any emotional gimmicks as he delivered the Word of God. He simply explained the truths of Scripture in an easy conversational tone. But he also conveyed an unusual sense of the blessing of God.
I have been in the ministry for about six years when I visited the Philippines to speak at a large church. As I browsed in the pastor’s study before the service, I noticed a book written by Howard Goss many years earlier. He had died since I had last seen him, but I still vividly remembered the impression he made on me.
The pastor noticed the book I was leafing through and abruptly exclaimed, “You know, his son goes to church here.”
There was plenty of time before the service began, so I asked if I could meet him. As we sat and talked, I explained my interest in knowing more about his dad. He told me about his father’s conversion, long years of preaching ministry, and beautiful marriage. Then he opened up even more: “Even though I drifted away from God, I never could get away from my parent’s prayers, “ he told me. “The farther I strayed, the more they interceded for me. Dad was always seeking God. I would so often see him on his knees in his study. His heart was so sincere before the Lord that I couldn’t take being around him when I was living so terribly. One night he and Mom prayed a long time for me and waited up until I got home from my carousing.
“Son, you’re coming back to the Lord!” they said. “God assured us in prayer tonight that it’s just a matter of time. Hallelujah!” And they were right, as usual.
“My dad really walked with God. He was quite famous in his circle of churches, and everybody wanted him to speak. He was a good writer and became an elder statesman to a multitude of younger preachers and congregations. But all the acclaim and popularity, all the invitations and compliments, never affected him except to make him more humble before God. His heart was so humble before the Lord that he had a special power in prayer and in preaching. The Lord was really with my dad.”
God can be with you and me in the same way as he was with Howard Goss, as we walk with humble hearts before him. Just as pride drives away the blessings of heaven and precedes certain failure, a humble heart is like a magnet that draws the favour of God towards us. The Lord really does dwell with certain people in a special way. He is there because of the resting place provided for him by their humble hearts.
Let us humble our hearts before the Lord and seek his help and approval above all other things. Then by his grace we will personally experience the awesome power of his might as he surrounds us with blessings and favour.”
*Jim Cymbala: “Living Abundantly through God’s Blessing”, Zondervan, 2004, pp 20-23