New Year, New You….how many times have you heard (or seen or read) that phrase over the past few weeks? Or another overplayed phrase – what’s your word for the year? While I actually do choose a word for the year, it is definitely “in vogue” lately (perhaps a bit too much so, but that’s another post) How about New Year’s Resolutions? Those seem to be somewhat “out of fashion” lately, people are rising above resolutions. Instead, we call them “goals” and don’t berate ourselves for failing to achieve them.
All the same, it is a new year. Your newsfeed and television are no doubt filled with diet plan advertisements, gym membership specials, and workout programs. My in box has been flooded with various blog posts about planning and goal setting. There’s something about the new year that makes us want to re-start.
A fresh, clean calendar goes up on my kitchen wall, and it is as though the year is fresh and unspoiled. I can make of it whatever I want. Or can I? Or should I? Is the new year really all about me and reinventing myself?
I want to challenge you to make this year NOT about you. The Puritans often get a bad rap, but I find them to generally possess of depth of faith and a keen understanding of the things that really do matter. I offer the following prayer for the new year from Valley of Vision (a collection of Puritan prayers).
Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed
in thy presence, in the service, to they glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains,
sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak every word,
direct every stop,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise,
testify thy love,
advance thy kingdom.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbor,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.
Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to teach,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.
May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.
—Arthur Bennett, editor. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1999 (first published in 1975), p. 112. ISBN 0-85151-228-3.
What if we made this year about God? What if we found our only profit in service to Christ and His kingdom? What triumphs and joys might await us then in Him?
Will you join me in making this prayer your resolution?