Stoking the Fire
Have you ever spent some time around a fire, maybe even been the one responsible for keeping it burning? I love an open fire, be it a fireplace in a home or a campfire out in the wilderness.
If you are familiar with fires at all, you will understand a bit of what it takes to bring one back from just warm coals to hot, vibrant flames. It usually involves some sort of air – your breath or possibly bellows – and often some sort of device to “stoke” the fire, whether it be a long stick or a proper fire iron.
This is what Heart Fire was for me – a stirring the coals into vibrant flames. Some bits were like a gentle, steady breath, some bits were like the strong bursts of air from bellows and some were like a fire iron – stoking places that needed something to get underneath what was blocking the air and move it.
Today Muddy Pearl released Heart Fire for its first publication in English – and I am so glad.
The author, Johannes Hartl, has dared to go to places many of us ‘Westerners’ would think twice about visiting and has learned from God and from the people in those places. All in search of one thing really – the heart of God. And the result is that he has learned, experienced and received revelation which he shares in this book, bringing both a unique perspective and a greater fullness and depth to this topic of prayer than you will find in most any other book on prayer.
What comes through every chapter is the one thing that seems to define the life and heart message of Johannes – a fascination with the person of Jesus and a reckless, abandoned love for Him.
From that life-altering moment in 1998 that Jesus gave me greater heart revelation about prayer through till now in this full-time role with 24-7 Prayer, my life has revolved largely around the topic of prayer.
I spend most waking moments of most days thinking about prayer, talking about prayer, writing about prayer, teaching on prayer, developing training around prayer, mentoring in prayer leadership etc.
And I have become very aware as of late that I spend more time “about” prayer than actually praying myself. I have also become very aware as of late that even the time I have taken to intentionally spend in silence and solitude has been more about trying to be a good leader and model something that I believe to be important, rather than a deep desire to hang out with Jesus. My heart has felt more like a bed of warm coals than a fire that burns strong and hot.
So it was statements from Johannes like these below that has re-centred my focus and more importantly, re-centred my heart:
“…it is not our own determination, but rather a gaze fixed on Jesus that keeps the fire of prayer burning…
The source of Christian life is a fascination with Jesus.”
“Praying means learning to love. And there is no love without attentiveness and being fully present.”
I was also reminded and encouraged to start praying bold and audacious prayers again. I was reminded that God truly desires and can transform a community, a city, a nation through the persistent prayers of His people. I was reminded that the vision in my heart to see the Church coming together in prayer comes straight from the heart of Jesus as reflected in John 17 and that:
“Only in praying together will we find the power to overcome the divisions in our hearts…”
“If God increasingly calls His church back to prayer, it will also be a call that we pray in unity..”
Ultimately, I am reminded that prayer is, always has been and always will be, about love for Jesus Himself and that:
“In the long term, God’s concern is not that we become a little bit more devout. He has nothing else in mind than the complete transformation of our hearts.”
Today, the coals in my heart have been stoked and a vibrant fire is returning. And my deepest longing once again is that what defines my life and what motivates every aspect of my life would be an extravagant, reckless abandon kind of love for Jesus.
Maybe you can relate? Maybe the demands and pressures, disappointments and curveballs of life have left you feeling like your heart contains more of a bed of coals than a thriving fire. If so, I would encourage to give Johannes’ book a read and invite the Holy Spirit to breathe through the pages into your coals. He always accepts those invitations!
You can find Heart Fire at muddypearl.com.