Another Prayer for New Year’s Eve 2013

aprayerforthenewyear

Scotty Smith has already posted his. Not sure anyone does this kind of prayer writing better than he does. His example prompted me to offer my own version.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-16

Lord who wills all things great and small, this particular “mist” reflects at the end of another year mindful that You have graciously granted him once again length of days free from cancer or any other potentially life-ending threat. My times remain in your hands and You have seen fit in Your mercy to extend them a bit longer for Your purposes. I continue to praise You that I am immortal until Jesus has finished with me. And that You will perfect that which You started some forty-one years ago until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6), for this too I am so thankful. For all the ways I have acknowledged Your sanctifying influences this past year, as well as the many I have missed, it means everything to me that You relentlessly work all things together for my good that I might be further conformed to the image of Your beloved Son,  (Rom. 8:28), my older Brother, who is not ashamed to be so called (Heb. 2:11).

I praise you, Father, for keeping me from the evil one and causing me in 2013 to continue to stand in the glorious gospel which I received and by which I am being saved (1 Cor. 15:1-2). While I have not always greeted the hard providences of 2013 or any year before it with a rejoice always, pray unceasingly, in everything give thanks disposition (1 Thess. 5:16-18), I revel in a gospel that wholly makes up for those shortcomings and every other crime I commit against Your goodness.

In a year when I felt the temptation to abandon my charge more than I can ever remember, You graciously steadied me with Col. 4:17 and Douthat’s Bad Religion. Where would I be without Your Word and good books that come to my rescue in just the nick of time? That you have gifted me as well with a wife I can’t shake, a staff I don’t deserve, a church by all human accounts I shouldn’t have, and a calling to which I never ultimately measure up, these gifts take my breath away and make me want, by your grace, in 2014 to be a better husband, better co-worker, better pastor, and most of all a better follower in practice of the way, truth, and life (John 14:6).

For what I do anticipate awaits me in 2014 in the way of ministry, travel, family, continuing education, and every other detail of life, I ask You to keep me from presumption by reminding me to qualify all expectations with a thoughtful and careful “if the Lord wills.” I do not know what tomorrow will bring or any other day of the new year. However, I resolve with Your help to leave what lies behind and advance forward to what lies ahead in the upward call in Christ Jesus banking on these, among other, exceedingly great and precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4):

  • You are for me and not against me (Rom. 8:31).
  • No weapon fashioned against me will succeed (Isa. 54:17).
  • You dwell in the heavens and do whatever pleases You (Psalm 115:3).
  • You will direct my paths (Prov. 3:5-6).
  • You will hear and answer my prayers (Psalm 116:1-2).
  • Your power will work mightily within me (Eph. 3:20).
  • I will not be subject to a spirit of fear but governed by a spirit of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).
  • You give grace to the humble and exalt at the proper time (1 Peter 5:5-7).
  • Nothing, absolutely nothing can or will separate me from Your love (Rom. 8:31-39).

Finally, One who was and is and always shall be, whatever time I may have left in these headed-for-the-finish line days of mine, whether one year or ten or more or less, as You will, may I be able to say with the apostle when all is said and done “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the race” (2 Tim. 4:7).

Amen.

Giving Thanks – Not Optional

Our confession of faith makes it clear. The giving of thanks comprises an essential component of true worship. Under the heading of Religious Worship, and the Lord’s Day paragraph 3 begins, God requires all men to pray to Him, and to give thanks, this being one part of natural worship.

Psalm 65:2 states Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion. Psalm 95:1-2 commands Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 118 starts Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus modeled thanksgiving in his prayers. I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth; that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will (Matt. 11:25-26). Paul directed prayer as a first priority for the worshiping church and included thanksgiving as part of its character. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (1 Tim. 2:1). Indeed, the filling of the Spirit manifests itself in our lives by a relentless penchant for giving thanks (Eph. 5:18-20).

If I pause to consider, it amazes me just how much I have to thank God for as another Thanksgiving holiday comes around. So great a salvation. Relative sanctification (I have so far to go!). The Spirit’s voice. The precious word of God. Length of days. A loving, forbearing (if you only knew) wife. Kids, grand kids, and extended family. Shelter and provision in abundance. Ministry opportunities galore. Faithful friends. Keeping providence. Grace that abounds in the face of my sin. The covenant community at OGC. Making friends for eternity among the Digo and other people groups. Great co-workers. I could go on and on!

As this Thursday approaches and our country heeds the call of our forefathers to give thanks, how do you find your gratitude quotient? Perhaps you might make a list like the one above, recounting the many ways in which God has blessed you. Maybe you could include a sharing time around your table on Thursday as to why you are thankful. How about writing a friend and let him/her know why you are grateful. Be sure to include a note in the note about your gratitude for that friend! That will be a great encouragement. If you need help with this, you might want to read Scotty Smith’s post concerning prayer about being a gratitude-geyser.

It is not optional for the Christian, this discipline of thanksgiving. But if we give it some thought, we will find that it doesn’t take much to get the gratitude juices going. God has given us so much. If you don’t think so, just read Ephesians 1:3. If that doesn’t get you going, I don’t know what will.