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A Prayer for the New Year

A tradition of placing a pine branch in the fire and making a wish led to an answered prayer.

By Evelyn Olsen, Grand Blanc, Michigan

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It was early January, and we were sitting around our friends' fireplace when Ron brought out a stack of pine branches. Nancy explained that she had read of an old tradition where each person placed a pine branch on the fire and made a wish for the New Year.

We began talking of our wishes. We mentioned cars, color tvs--all sorts of fun luxuries. Then my thoughts flashed to the new meaning in my life since I had joined a prayer group. I wanted other people to know God as I did. And so as I placed my branch on the crackling fire, I quietly prayed, "Please let one person, just anyone, be drawn closer to the Lord because of me."

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I remembered the prayer often in the months ahead as I tried to be always available as God's witness in church meetings, Sunday school and social activities.

In August the thought occurred to me--What if someone wanted to know more about the Lord and I didn't have the answers for them? I began reading the Bible, studying lives of men whom God had transformed, and reading devotional classics. But nothing seemed to materialize.

Suddenly it was December 31. I remembered my prayer wish and tried to think who it was that I had brought closer to the Lord. I finally had my answer--no one!

I sat for a few minutes trying to understand. Then I said, "Lord, I know You answer every prayer. I believe. I trust You, but where is my answer?"

And in that next moment, the Lord spoke to me in words I could almost hear. "Don't you know it is you and I who are closer?"

And, of course, He was right. Our friendship had deepened; I did know Him better. My New Year's wish had come true.