KEEPERS OF A GENTLE FLAME

The spirit of God is unpredictable wildfire. But I wonder, have we become keepers of a gentle flame?

Brian Heasley is National Director of 24-7 Prayer in Great Britain after leading 24-7 Ibiza and has been part of the prayer movement since it began. He is married to Tracy and has two teenage sons. The family live in Norfolk and are involved in a Christian community there. You can read about the incredible story of 24-7 Ibiza in Brian’s book, ‘Gatecrashing’.

Flame International’s work with victims of rape in DRC is currently featured on 24-7’s website as we call people to pray for this issue. You can see it at :
www.24-7prayer.com/pickafight

We know that prayer can change things. I’m often thinking of the way that we, as the Church, are always trying to spend more time in prayer. Those moments that we bend our knees before God are important. We need to pray as much as we can.

We start on our knees because we can’t do it on our own; we can’t organise, plan and administer the growth of God’s kingdom. We can only, in faith, fall to our knees in acknowledgement of our absolute and utter dependency on Him.

Yes we have plans, initiatives, and resources, but if these are not fuelled by prayer they will only be shallow expressions of a deeper reality. All the fires we seek to light must start with a spark of prayer and must be sustained by the fuel of prayer. And when they spread, they must ignite more prayer.

The spirit of God is unpredictable wildfire. But I wonder, have we become keepers of a gentle flame?

As the Church in the UK, we’ve become good at what we do. We know how to connect with one another, how to run Alpha courses, how to run good youth work, how to effectively engage with our communities. We strive to make our stuff sexier, more attractive and as slick as it possibly can be. And if I’m honest, it all kind of works, which is good and definitely an answer to our prayers.

However, I can’t help feeling there is another dimension that we need to access, another place. To stop being comfortable with what we’re already achieving and from our knees, move towards what we do not know.

I’m calling it the edge. The edge of our comfort zones. The edge between what we can physically do and what we can’t. The edge, for me, is faith. It’s the point where we have to take ourselves and our communities. It’s the place where if it all goes wrong, we’ll look stupid and our elders will tell us they saw it coming. It’s the place where we will be embarrassed if it doesn’t work.

We have to start scaring ourselves again.

This is the place of prayer which takes us to the edge and leads us out in faith. This is Noah building a boat, Abraham on the mountain, Moses crossing the sea, Peter walking on water, or Stephen before the Sanhedrin.
I want to get on my knees because, although what we are doing is great and blessed, it is not enough yet. We need to go further. What do we have faith for? What do we need faith for?

I want to get out on that scary edge again.

When we step out in faith, God uses us to shine his light into the dark places. When we’re on the edge, we’re relying on God to use us in ways that we never thought possible. We might find ourselves in situations that are completely out of our depth if we attempt to do it without relying on him who is bigger and stronger, and can use us when we’re willing.

It all starts on our knees, but we can’t stay there forever. We have to be prepared to move to the edge. We have to step out in faith. The gentle flame isn’t what we’re called to look after; we must be prepared to let it spark into a fire. If the Spirit of God is unpredictable wildfire, we need to be prepared to be in those unexpected and uncomfortable places.

What are we waiting for?

–Brian Heasley