A NEW YEAR
In England we are looking forward to the spring. Winter still holds us in its grip but we have hope of warmer days because we know that God has promised the seedtime to follow the cold of winter. How often the true church and the true believer seem to be in the grip of winter. As John Newton expressed it,
Ah, my winter has been long!
Chilled my hopes and stopped my song.
Winter threatens to destroy
Faith, and love, and every joy.
but soon he goes on to pray,
On thy garden deign to smile;
Raise the plants, enrich the soil;
Soon thy presence will restore
Life to what seemed dead before.
Such praying is surely a prelude to the spiritual springtime which is so greatly needed today. Prayer, both individual and collective, has been the prelude to so many times of rich blessing in the history of the church of God and is always the consequence of such times of reviving. May God most graciously pour out that spirit of grace and of supplication during this new year.
What joy there would be in this land if it could be said of cities, towns and villages, as it was of the young people of Bulford in 1860, ‘Behold, they pray.” Could we say with John Protheroe, “We had long been praying for this revival – crying long, but believingly and patiently, ‘from beneath the altar'”? (seepage 208).
How desperately is such a mighty work of God needed. Many believers feel that we are living in truly apocalyptic times. Western civilisation is experiencing what appear to be its death throes, as long accepted moral restraints are violently discarded. So recently the world was threatened by a nuclear disaster of unprecedented danger and is now constantly threatened by the inexorable spread of the incurable AIDS disease and other, suddenly more virulent, forms of illness. If men’s hearts are not “failing them for fear, and or looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 11.26) one wonders what more they will have to see in order to produce such fear! May God in rich mercy give strength and faith to His true church in such days and enable her to proclaim the precious gospel of His grace in a dying world, calling men, in their desperate plight, to repentance and faith.
Pray, then, with deep urgency of spirit. Pray with confidence in the Almighty Saviour. Pray while there is still time to pray, for the day must come when the door will be shut and then all prayers are in vain. “Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25.10-13).