There’s no better time to find ways to prayerfully wrap up the past and face the future.
It’s here. A new year. To paraphrase an ancient writer, “the old year has gone; the new has come!”
There’s no better time to find ways to prayerfully wrap up the past year and face the new year with a clean slate. Won’t that be nice? You betcha. So, let me suggest three prayers that will help us start the year strong.
Speaking to His people through the ancient prophet Haggai, God said, “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:5, 7, NIV).
It’s a perfect prayer exercise for the threshold of a new year. Ask God, “Show me where I went wrong. Show me where I’m not pleasing you and help me to confess and repent. Show me where my priorities and practices need to change.”
If you’re sincere, you can count on God to answer. He told His people in Haggai’s day:
“You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it” (Haggai 1:6, NIV).
So, reevaluate. Look back at the past year, perhaps even writing down things you would like to change. While you’re at it, ask God to also show you things you did right, things you did well, things you might find satisfaction and blessing in doing more of. Write down those things too.
Haggai’s prophecy records (in verse 12) that, once they examined their ways, “the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God” because “the people feared the LORD.”
In the Bible, "fear of the Lord" is an attitude of reverence toward God that leads to trust. Fear of the Lord is loving God with all our hearts, serving Him with all our passion, and obeying Him as best we can. This is the response God looks for from His people, both then and now. If Israel had reevaluated without recommitting, they could not have launched ahead with the Lord’s blessing. Their efforts would probably have been unproductive and disappointing, to both them and God.
So it will be with us. But we can make a new beginning in this new year by prayerfully recommitting ourselves to serving God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, renewing our allegiance to Jesus, and affirming our commitment to live under His Lordship. Then, when we’re fully submitted and open to the Lord, He can stir our hearts and bless our efforts to turn a corner in our lives.
Then, finally, like the Israelites of Haggai’s day…
In Haggai’s day, their reevaluation and recommitment resulted in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (see Haggai 1:14-15). What new focus will result from your reevaluation and recommitment?
Will it be rebuilding something? Reconnecting in some way? Reversing something? Reviving something?
Here again, ask God to show you. “Show me where I should focus in this new year—and where I shouldn’t focus. Show me what will please You. Show me when to say “no” and when to say “yes.” Show me where to invest my attention, my efforts and my resources. Show me what will make this year the best possible year.”
Turning those three prayer corners can bring to pass in this new year what the poet Robert Browning envisioned many years ago: “The best is yet to be.”