Praying Through the New Year
Praying is better than making promises I will never keep
New Years resolutions, bah humbug! I don't know about you, but I can't keep a resolution more than a week. They set me up for discouragement. In and of themselves, resolutions are not a bad thing, but most of the time, it is our agenda, planned to be carried out in our own strength, and if we fail, we are bad. Not a good recipe for a happy new year.
It has been my habit through the years to pray in the new year rather than to celebrate by shooting off noisy, colorful fireworks, kissing a room full of strange men at a party, or just going to bed indifferent. One time, during a dark season in my life I prayed like Eeyore, "Lord, what other awful things am I going to experience this coming year?" Pretty pathetic. I feel ashamed at that stupid, ungrateful line of prayer, and I haven't prayed it since. I now feel compelled to pray with confession and repentance. I cannot pray revival for others if I don't repent and seek revival in my own heart. So, that is where I start after acknowledging God's sovereignty.
Then I pray along the lines of, "Thank you Father for another year full of opportunities to serve You. I don't know what my future holds this year, but I know You, O God, hold my future in Your hands. I pray Father that this year I may grow closer to you, whether calamity and adversity befall me, or good, and happy times, I want more of You, to be more like You, and be a light to those who don't know You. Give me a willingness to do your will. May my life glorify you in every way."
The kicker to such prayer is to actually do what I ask God to help me do. Can we say "OBEDIENCE?:
Lord, make me an instrument
One of my favorite written prayers is that of St. Francis of Assisi, "Lord Make Me and Instrument." It is a prayer I pray often because I believe that it is everything the Lord is and how He wants me to love others. Let me share it with you:
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Pray for your family
Of course I pray for my family all the time. But on New Years I pray for them in a broader sense for the coming year ahead. I ask they will turn to Him when trials come their way in the new year; that they might find their strength and guidance in Him; that if severe testing is ahead that He would prepare and equip them with strength, and wisdom; that there will be family unity; that those who are sick will be made whole, that those who don't know the Lord will be saved, and on it goes. We must pray as the Spirit leads, but this is a picture of what I pray pretty faithfully.
I have many grandchildren and I pray especially for them. The world is an unsafe place, with unsafe people. Although I ask God to protect them from evil and sickness, the truth is that life will have difficult times, they may experience the results of evil from others, and other forms of trial and suffering, so I pray for the Lord to show Himself to them, and pray for their parents to guide and protect them. Three of my four sons are not walking with the Lord, so I pray for their salvation, and that of their mates. There is so much we can pray for our families.
Pray for the Church
Many are praying for revival in America. As I said before, revival starts with the individual Christian. Next, we must pray for revival in the Church. There is a lot we (the Church) need to repent of and we as the Body need to be cleansed and revived and start living as salt and light and influence our world to follow Christ.
In 2 Chronicles 7 God appeared to Solomon one night after the dedication of the new temple. God told him if the people called by His name would humble themselves, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, he would extend mercy and forgiveness.
Nehemiah's prayer for his nation
And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments,please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Pray for our nation
Our nation is rapidly declining as a world power. Quit frankly, if things continue as they are, the U.S may implode on itself. Evil is now good, and righteousness is considered evil. We began as one nation under God. Now we are a nation without God. The Bible tells us to pray for leaders that God puts in authority over us,
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people --for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior (1Tim. 2:1-3).
This can be challenging when the people in authority make you angry because of their godlessness and that make policies and laws that are against everything God wills. We don't always understand why God allows or even sets leaders such as them in office, but regardless, we are called to pray for them. And really, it makes perfect sense that we pray for such people.
How might we pray for our nation and our leaders?
That our non-believing elected officials come to Christ. When praying this way the Lord showed me that I should be praying for their salvation because He loves them as individuals first, and desires that none should perish. My default in the past was "Lord save them so we have a better country." Of course we want that, but God's first concern is that ungodly men come to him. I found myself not wanting to pray for a particular president and his party. Quite frankly, I had no love for them and did not see them as lost souls in need of a Savior, but evil men and women deserving of judgment. But what does the Bible tell us?
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (that includes you and I). For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom.6-8).
Praying for righteous legislation and decisions while the legislators are still walking in darkness is in my opinion, putting the cart before the horse, and it is selfish in the fact that we are failing to care for their souls. We will preach and pray till the cows come home for the sick and the homeless, but not for our elected officials. A pastor I once had said during an election year said "You can't legislate godliness." That has stuck with me for many years.
So I have had to ask God to change my attitude toward people in authority who are doing wrong, and I still struggle, but I must count myself as a sinner saved by grace, not by being a "good" person. Who knows but many will repent and come to Christ.
Do you prefer to make resolutions in the new year or pray?
Pray for the nations
Although our country is in a terrible state, we still have many things to be thankful for compared to other nations where there is constant bloodshed, uprisings, persecution of believers, poverty, famine, pestilence, and God only knows what else. Jesus said "For God so loved the world...", and the leaders of nations and it's people are included.
As we pray for revival in our own hearts, and for our country, we should pray for revival around the world.
Pray in the New Year with others
Pray with others for the New Year
We had a family in our former church who threw a big New Years party every year with all the church invited (It was a smaller church). Their was lots of food and wonderful fellowship, and at the stroke of midnight our host would set off a few fireworks. The hosts mother lived in an apartment on the lower floor and many of us gathered there to play games on those nights. One year the Lord impressed it upon me to suggest we pray in the New Year. So while the fireworks were going on and many upstairs were watching, a little band of pray-ers were storming the gates of heaven. It became a new tradition at that party in the years to come. These wonderful folks moved on eventually, and the mother is in a care facility. Life changes, people move, etc. But I continue to pray in the New Year. We all want hope, and the only way to find it is through God's word and in prayer.
Happy New Year!
© 2012 Lori Colbo