The following articles were published during 2009 :-

(A) –  “BROTHER DAVID’s THOUGHTS FROM THE 2009 CHRISTMAS SEASON”

1. Aleksandr Solzhnitsyn, the renowned  Russian writer, is in my opinion one of the great people produced by the Church in the 20th century.

He started off as a committed communist, and remained so for many years. All of this began to change, gradually, when, for criticising Stalin in a private letter, he was placed in a concentration camp for eight years, and three more in exile. Solzhnitsyn began to see that the communist regime was an evil system. This awareness seemed to coincide with the resurgence of his spiritual life. Over a period of time he became a very committed Christian, and all the social and political comments he made were informed by his Christian knowledge and conscience.

Solzhnitsyn believed that the problems of the world were spiritual, not political. He believed that what Russia needed to do more than anything else was to repent for the suffering she had caused.

In 1983, when he was awarded the prestigious Templeton Prize, in his acceptance speech, he said that if he had to sum up the World’s problems in a few words he would say “Men have forgotten God”. I suspect he would say the same to-day. Certainly I would say that everything he said about Russia, America and the world is applicable to Northern Ireland today – that we have forgotten God; that we have turned away from God; that the answer to our problems is mainly spiritual and not political; and that we have a great need to repent.

2. Great need to renew the life of prayer.

There is a great need for the prayer life of individuals and the Church to be renewed. To be aware of that need gives us the opportunity to do something about it. It has often been said that the worst-attended meeting in many churches is the prayer meeting.

There is a great need for teaching on prayer in our churches and for an emphasis on the prayer life. Derek Prince said that the most powerful people in the world are intercessors. They are the people who through prayer can influence and change what is going on in the world. We need more people in the Church to grasp this vision. Many of the world’s problems could be sorted out through prayer if more of us were to commit ourselves to it. I believe, for instance, that it was prayer which brought down the Iron Curtain. As Alexander Solzhnitsyn has said, “The answer to most of the world’s problems is spiritual, not political.”

3. Materialism.

After spending eight years in a concentration camp and three years in exile, Alexander Solzhnitsyn was allowed to go home. One of the first things he did was to impose a simple life-style upon his home. This did not please his wife, but Solzhnitsyn believed that too easy and affluent a life-style made you weak and flabby. Throughout his life he felt that people needed to put limits on themselves in the use of material things. When communism fell in Russia he was an ongoing critic of the way his country had started to adopt many of the more superficial values of Western life.

I feel the same about Northern Ireland. Especially since the cease-fires were called in 1994 there has been a great rise in materialism in our country. I don’t think it is good for us as individuals and as a people the way we seek after money and spend money.

As Christians to live a simple life-style and to give a way money we do not need to good causes would help us greatly in our spiritual lives.

(B) – “REFLECTIONS FROM BROTHER DAVID”

Reflections from Brother David on 12th July, 2009:

 Tension in the community

 There has been a spate of sectarian attacks recently in Northern Ireland by both sections of the community on the other. People, homes, churches, sporting and Orange Halls have been attacked. It would be easy to slip into despair, wondering if this form of tension will ever end. But this is why prayer for revival is so important.

When it comes, and it will come because God has promised, the hearts of people will be changed and these acts of aggravation towards the other community will cease.

 Relieving tension in the community

 I spent some time to-day, a very significant day in the Northern Ireland calendar, praying for revival in this land. I felt the Lord say that, even though we are going to pray seven years, there will be many encouraging signs long before that time is up. When I turned on the television this evening there was an interview with Father Paul Symonds, at an Orange demonstration in Ballymena, speaking very positively about the principles of the Orange Order. I found this very moving and I felt that Paul’s presence there, as a Catholic priest, was an example of the signs of the prayer for revival which we can expect, bringing people together, preparing the ground for revival to come.

Paul tries to reach out the hand to everyone, irrespective of who they are or what they have done. This is surely an example for all of us to follow.

 Prayer for blessing

 I have written before about the need in this country for Protestants to ask God to bless Catholics, and equally for Catholics to bless Protestants. In this way the power of God will really be released.

 Today, as I asked God to bless the Catholic people of this land, I felt Him say that in Northern Ireland each section of the community will be blessed in the proportion to which we ask God to bless the other section.

(C) – “SEASONAL THOUGHTS FROM BROTHER DAVID”

The Power of Prayer

One town in Northern Ireland where many churches of different denominations are very strong is Bangor. All over the town there are churches which appear to be thriving with very big congregations.

I cannot help feeling that this is linked to all those years of prayer that went on in Bangor, centered around the Abbey, 1500 years ago. Accounts vary about how long the continuous prayer, twenty-four hours a day, went on. Some say 150 years, others 200 years.

The monks in the Abbey believed that if prayer for Ireland stopped that violencewould break out again. So they carried on unceasingly. I wonder if today we are still reaping the blessing of all that prayer that went on in Bangor fifteen hundred years ago.

Keep No Score of Wrongs

St. Paul tells us that love keeps no score of wrongs. Do we need to take that message more seriously in both communities in Northern Ireland?

Grievances from the past have been remembered, even fostered and used to justify present excesses. Is it time to let go and keep no score of wrongs?

(D) – “REFLECTIONS FOR THE HOLIDAY PERIOD FROM BROTHER DAVID”

The Parades season

I feel that the Lord is saying at this time that He will answer our prayer for revival in a broader way that will bring a blessing to the whole of our society. I know that some people are concerned that the parades this year could spark off serious violence. 

However, I feel the Lord is saying that He will honour the prayer for revival, not just by renewing faith in this land, but by giving us protection over these summer months. Praise God! What a blessing!

Seven Years of Prayer for Revival

On Saturday, 20th June the seven years of prayer for revival was launched at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. It was a wonderful day and the Cathedral was well-filled throughout the hours of prayer (10.30 am – 3.30 pm).

Every speaker was excellent. We were as well led on that day as I can remember in days or weeks of prayer. The Rev. Dr. Godfrey Brown talked about the 1859 revival. He said that it did not come suddenly. There had been a lot of preparation beforehand in the churches. What did surprise people was the power and impact of the Revival – 100,000 were brought to a new and loving faith.

Seventeen new Presbyterian churches were built. The Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Conner confirmed 750 in one year instead of the usual 250.

There was a falling crime rate, growth in Sabbath observance, growth in the areas of family love, common courtesy and prayer meetings.

This continued for decades.

Day of Prayer

Our first speaker on the day we launched the seven years prayer for revival was Rev. Jim Rae, former President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

He said that the purpose of revival is so that God will be glorified. It is not to make great reputations for men.

Revival always involves repentance. Do we need to repent? Do we need to repent of putting our culture before Christ?

Revival is what God does, not what we do. The God-given method of prayer for revival is prayer without ceasing.

“Evangelism affects the other fellow. Revival affects me.” Leonard Ravenhill.

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