The Place of Prayer Opens the Heart

I could not believe the tight security of this place, it was like the Crown Jewels were hidden away somewhere.
And they were.
A few years ago I went to the Tower of London. Stone walls, rooms full of spears and other weaponry, armed guards, close circuit T.V., eyes everywhere watching your every move. Into a small corridor I was taken, even more cameras zooming in, then around a corner into another room, this one with glass cabinets protecting the valuables inside. The people in that room insured that there was a reverential hush and quiet to it, silencing any thought of talking out loud.
Behind the reinforced glass lay the Crown Jewels. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, gold, silver all placed perfectly into crowns, sceptres, rings etc.
All the pieces displayed had some form of power or authority attached to them. All untouchable, cold, hard, hidden away to be shown only when a key was turned and entry was permitted.The person that owned the jewels had been given the power and authority to rule and govern. No crown?, no King or Queen.
Could I physically touch the jewelled heart of an empire? No way. Walls and glass prevented me. 
Physical touch brings a reality to relationship. There is a substance made available to the senses. I suppose that is why Jesus invited so much touch into his relationships. ‘Here, put your fingers into my spear wound’ he invites the sceptical followers. Touching a blind mans eyes with mud mixed with spit. 
To touch a heart though requires something quite special. Our hearts often have walls of self protection stronger than the Tower of London. The cement in the walls being a small little phrase we say quietly to ourselves – ‘I will never let my heart be broken again’. The cement binds around the pebbles and boulders of memories of abandonment, shame, of being used, rejection, ridicule, loss etc.
We know very little about Lydia other than that she sold purple cloth, came from Thyatira, was a follower of God, and that on a certain Sabbath she had gathered together with a few other women to pray by a river. A women’s prayer meeting. She, like us, would have experienced hurts during her life and would have built walls. She had strategies of managing life, but something happened to her that was supernaturally given and changed her life for good.

The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was being said by Paul. Acts 16:14

We like to be in control don’t we? To be masters of our own destiny. If we are not in control then we may feel vulnerable and at the risk of the choices of others. We like to control the people around us, so we know that we are safe.
Yet something quite profoundly beautiful happened here. Lydia was already a God follower, she may not have heard about Jesus at this stage, but the heart was ready for the reception of him.
As she listened her heart was opened. The doors were opened for her heart to be changed from the inside out.
So many people want their lives to change from the outside in. Fix all the problems on the outside, my kids, my job, my spouse, but please don’t look deep into my heart, the seat of my motivations, because, and here is that whispery thought, ‘I will never let my heart be broken again’.
At the ‘place of prayer’ a relationship was formed.
Not a program, not a course, not a method. The place of prayer offered a transformation of her heart.

“Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very centre of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched.”  – Henri J.M. Nouwen

The Lord opened her heart.
What does that mean for you?
Is your heart open to change?
Have you made yourself a life of reliant on your own thinking rather than on Christ’s?
Are you so religiously bound up in rules and regulations that your heart no longer experiences a deep quiet joy? Is the place of prayer a transforming place for your heart? Are you scared of your heart?
Ask the Lord to open your heart at the place of prayer.
Barry Pearman
Image by xurde Creative Commons Flickr
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