First published in 1937, Open Windows reached more than one million readers during its peak in the 1990s and continues to enjoy a circulation of more than 700,000.
“Unlike Lifeway’s other devotional choices, Open Windows relates to both genders and all ages of adults,” said Betty Hassler, content editor for the quarterly magazine. “It is still used by a lot of families as the devotion they read around the breakfast or dinner table. Intergenerational families also like it.”
An editorial that originally published in April 1937 reveals the inspiration for the publication’s name and includes the Open Windows theme verse of Daniel 6:10: “When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (HCSB).
That 1937 devotion goes on to read, “Mirrors reflect self. Open windows reveal God.”
In many ways, Open Windows has remained unchanged throughout its lengthy history. The format of the devotions, the wide range of topics and the vast array of authors have remained in place since the beginning.
“Originally, Open Windows was a monthly publication with each daily devotion written by a different author who typed it on his or her typewriter,” Hassler recalled. “All of the pages looked different with different lengths. The present magazine is neatly copy fit and styled into a standardized template. Otherwise, we’ve kept the basic format of a Scripture, key verse, devotion and prayer thought.”
Over the years, Open Windows has featured the writing and devotional thoughts of such well-known individuals as Herschel Hobbs, W.A. Criswell, R.G. Lee, Grady Nutt and Thom Rainer. Perhaps less well known, but one of the most committed writers, Bessie Kennedy has contributed devotions for 30 consecutive years, including one for the Spring 2011 issue.
“All of our writers are Southern Baptists who are active in their churches and recommended by their pastors,” Hassler explained. “We have more than 100 qualified writers and rotate assignments, picking up new writers each quarter.”
Writers include ministers, staff members, missionaries, convention personnel and lay men and women in churches from California to New England, Michigan to Texas, and across the South and Southeast.
Just because the print devotional has maintained its personality over the years doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed with the times in other ways. For instance, in keeping with the nomenclature used by the International Mission Board, Open Windows in 2009 adopted the use of affinity groups instead of country names in its prayer calendar.
Then in 2010, Open Windows took to the social media world with its own page on Facebook (Facebook.com/openwindowsdevotions). Devotions from Open Windows are included in the Lifeway.com electronic daily devotion that goes to churches and individuals across the nation.
“I’m always surprised by the number of young and median adults who want to write for Open Windows or comment about devotions from it,” Hassler said. “We may be 75 years old, but the Bible message is timeless. There will always be a place for a daily devotion in the lives of growing Christians.”
by Brooklyn Lowery