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A Prayer for the New Year

January 12, 2014
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1379412761_2014horoscopeOur church decided to ring in the new year with a prayer-focused service this morning.  It was entitled, “Praying Our Way Into 2014”.

This is the prayer that I wrote and read for that service.  

A prayer for our daily worship.

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Father, here we are again, at the beginning of another journey into a new year.  As we set out on this journey together, we come to You today, offering up this prayer for our daily worship.

We know of no better place to start than by simply saying thank You.  Thank You for the promise of Your unfailing love…and Your continual mercies.  Your word tells us that they are as fresh as the morning and as sure as the sunrise.  Your mercies are new EVERY morning.  What comfort we find in that promise.  Out of compassion, Father, You offer us opportunities for new beginnings.  Day after day. Month after month.  Year after year.  Great are Your mercies.  Great is Your compassion.  Great is Your faithfulness.  We call those things to mind today and, therefore, we have hope…..hope for great things ahead in 2014.

Father, as a body of believers on the cusp of this new year – this new beginning – we come to You with a desire to take our daily worship more seriously.  We come to You with a desire to extend our worship well beyond the Sunday mornings that we spend in this place.  We know that You are a loving Father who wants full-time relationships with His children….not just part-time religious encounters.  We know that our worship and our spiritual growth shouldn’t just occur within these walls each week.  They should also occur in the everyday – the uneventful – the commonplace.  After all, aren’t those the places where our greatest spiritual battles are lost or won?  Aren’t You the kind of Father who longs for Your children to invite You into those places?

Father, hear us loud and clear.  We invite You in.  Into the everyday – the uneventful – the commonplace.  We want to encounter You and worship You daily.  We want to take 2014 and weave the beautiful thread of worship through it….day in and day out.

We can think of no better way to do that than by simply responding to the appeal that Paul makes to us in the book of Romans.  He urges us to present our bodies – ourselves – as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to You.  He calls this offering of ourselves an act of worship.  Father, we hear those words today, and we’re moved by them.  We want them to take root in our lives and bear much fruit throughout this year ahead of us.

We take Paul’s words seriously because we know that they aren’t just his words.  They are Your words.   And as we stop to reflect upon them today, we have some confessions to make.

As You know, we live in a culture that is obsessed with New Year’s resolutions.  And You are well aware of what the top resolutions are year after year after year.  At the top of countless lists this year, and every year, You find these words:  Eat healthier. Exercise more. Lose Weight.

Father, we can’t help but notice that these top New Year’s resolutions are all in regard to the physical health of our bodies.  Sure, we know that it pleases You to see us taking care of these bodies You have given to us – these temples of the holy spirit.  We know that.  However, we can’t help but wonder if Your shoulders slump a bit each year as You discover, yet again, that these resolutions are the ones that Your children have chosen to place firmly at the top.

Father, these are our confessions today.  We confess that there have been times when our cravings to be physically healthy have exceeded our cravings to be spiritually healthy.  We confess that there have been times when we’ve been far more disciplined in our efforts to improve our physical health than we have in our efforts to improve our spiritual health.  And we confess that this lack of discipline has – at times – hindered us from being the living sacrifices that You want us to be.

Because we believe in the promise that Your compassion and Your mercies are new every morning, we come to You today and ask You to forgive us.  Forgive us for the ways that we may have fallen short – both individually and collectively – in our attempts to offer ourselves fully and sacrificially to You.

We have a clean slate before us today – wiped completely clean by Your mercies anew.  What an awesome gift it is!  Father, we want to take it and fill it with something beautiful for You.  And we start by resolving to become the living sacrifices that You want us to be.

May we resist being conformed to this world – and rather – be transformed by the renewing of our minds.   May our thoughts and actions be holy and acceptable to You.  May we continually seek Your wisdom and Your truths so that we might be able to discern Your will for us.  May we be intentional about spending time with You in prayer, and hold ongoing conversations with you throughout our days.  May we be nourished, strengthened, and refreshed by Your Word.  May we become spiritually healthier as a church body.  May we be a body that is a living sacrifice….one that honors You and worships You daily.

Father, as we seek to turn this resolution of ours into a reality, please remind us – time and again – to look to the example set for us by Your Son Jesus.

The epitome of spiritual health.

The epitome of what a living sacrifice truly looks like.

Father,
Give us eyes like His….that can clearly see what You would have us to do.
Give us hands like His….that are open, willing, and ready to reach out to those in need.
Give us ears like His…..that are able to hear Your voice above all others.
Give us lips like His…that speak words of encouragement to those around us, and words of praise to You.
Give us shoulders like His….that are broad enough to bear each other’s burdens and lessen each other’s loads.
Give us arms like His….that are outstretched and willing to embrace those from all walks of life.
Give us legs like His….that run life’s race with endurance, without growing weary or faint.
Give us backs like His….that maintain a posture of submission to Your purposes and plans.
Give us minds like His….that are fixed and focused upon Your teachings.
Give us feet like His….that move swiftly and gracefully – taking us wherever it is that You want us to go.
Give us hearts like His…..that overflow with love for You and for others.

Father, when people see us – this body – out in the world, may they notice a striking resemblance to Christ Himself.

Mold us and transform us so that we might look more like Him in 2014.  And may the transformations that take place bring You glory each and every day…not just on Sunday mornings.

Take our moments. Take our days.
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Father, we offer this body – Reunion – as a living sacrifice to You and to the One who sacrificed it all so that we might truly live.

And it’s in His name that we pray.

Amen.

 

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