Monday, November 24, 2008
Prayer: A Happy New Year
The New Year is quickly approaching. I am sitting at my desk with several tasks ahead of me. A plan for the year ahead and taxes are at the top of that list. As I weigh my options, it is crystal clear that looking ahead to the New Year will take priority. Each year I reflect on the year that just passed and what I had hoped and planned for. Did I accomplish goals that were set? What do I still need to work on? How am I doing? I pull up the plan for the past year to guide me into and through this process for the coming year. I am amazed at my findings. God has truly blessed and has accomplished so much. I take a moment to thank God and to pray for His next adventures for the year ahead. “This is much better than taxes,” I think to myself.
Planning for the New Year can be a daunting undertaking. I always worry that I am not being realistic in the goals that I am setting. Am I over challenging myself? Am I underachieving? Do I shoot for smaller goals so that I can feel successful when I find myself back here next year? If I am honest with myself and this process, I press my limits and my list looks more like a list of dreams than goals. I always think back to that old saying that says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I don’t want that. I want this year to count for something. I want it to matter. I don’t want to waste life or time. I want to honor God, but how?
What is God’s will for us in the New Year? What does God want from us/for us? These are great questions . . . for Him. Prayer gets us the answers that we seek. God’s desire and will for us is to connect with Him in such a way that we find Him and know how to follow God in the year to come. Prayer is a relationship with the author of life. Prayer is more than simply talking at God; it is also listening for God’s next for our lives. As we consider the New Year, I wonder what it is that God has for us. What is God’s plan?
As I consider these questions, and sit down to plan out the coming year, I am thinking about Paul’s words to the Colossians in chapter 1, verses 9-12. In these verses Paul expresses his prayers for the church at Colosse:
“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us (Peterson).”
As the New Year arrives at our doorstep, I echo Paul’s prayer for us. I hope that we are filled with God’s wisdom and are attuned to His will and that we, without a doubt, come into a deep understanding of how God works. I hope that this coming year is filled with opportunities to live well for the Master and to make Him proud of what we do in His orchard. I pray that we continue to learn and do our work well. I look to a New Year filled with strength, vision, endurance, joy, thanksgiving, and purpose. May this year hold for us everything that is bright and beautiful that God has for us.
Praying into a New Year,
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.