A New Year's Prayer
I used to think about New Year's Resolutions in this way:
Drink coke less
Spend more time playing with the kids
Spend less time on the computer
Read more meaningful books
Watch less meaningless t.v.
Live life more fully
Stop being anxious about tomorrow
Do any of these resolutions sound familiar to you?
Indeed, all good and wonderful things to desire and resolve to do each year.
The problem was, New Year's Resolutions rarely worked out the way I’d planned. By April, I’d feel defeated by the lack of progress I’d made, if I could even remember what the resolution was in the first place.
And ironically, my resolution never had much, if anything, to do with the one thing that mattered more than anything else to me - my relationship with Jesus.
Psalm 73:23-25, 28
Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
It was Christmastime 2009 when I began to think differently about New Year’s Resolutions. It was the year that God really began to open my eyes to the greatness of His grace – how much I needed it and how much He desired to give it - that God stirred all this in my heart....
……. how I can see each new year as an invitation to refocus my heart on growing deeper and more dependent on Christ?
……..how I can see each new year as a fresh opportunity to offer more of my heart, my story, and my life to the One who gave His heart, and His story, and His life for mine?
……..how I can use each new year to offer a new prayer rather than make a new resolution?
It made sense, I thought. If the main purpose of my life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, I wanted to use each year to refocus my heart on doing just that.
We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
My New Years Prayer in 2010 was simple. “Lord, more of you, less of me.” I was thirsty, really thirsty, for more of Jesus. Even more than that, I was just really tired of myself. Andrew Murray has a much more eloquent way of putting it. He says, “Let death be to you the most desirable thing on earth, death to self and fellowship with God.” And although there still needs to be a lot less of “me,” 2010 was a year God opened my heart more fully to the full measure of His grace. It was a year of adventure for our family, feeling called to sell our home and move from NY to CT to be (among other things) closer to our church family. And it was a year of great adventure for me personally, one where I felt God was calling me to be vulnerable with the things He was teaching me about the profound and blessed ways His grace can change a family. It was the year I sensed the Lord saying, “If you really want more of me, you’re going to have to trust me.” And so it was the year I began to put my heart on paper for more than just my eyes to see.
My New Years Prayer in 2011 was, “Lord, I want to live in full awareness of your grace in every moment of my life.” This was the year God did some major melting and molding in my parenting. In desiring to keep my eyes open to His presence in every moment of my life, I was convicted to surrender more of my moments to Him. And in His presence is grace. Pure, bountiful, grace. Grace that filled the empty places in my heart, and grace that began to overflow more freely to my kids. Grace that set me free to enjoy the adventure of parenting so much more, and grace that made me live in hopeful expectation of what Jesus longs to reveal to me about Himself through my children.
And finally, my New Years Prayer in 2012 was simply, “Lord, increase my faith. I want faith that moves mountains.” In fact, below is precisely how I wrote my New Year’s Prayer for 2012 in my journal, having no idea what 2012 would bring:
“Lord, increase my faith. I want faith that moves mountains. And I know that this kind of faith - faith that moves mountains - requires trust (or in the words of Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust) And I know that this kind of faith requires surrender. Complete and total surrender of my own agenda and wide-open arms to Yours.”
Yes that was my prayer for 2012: “Lord, let the mountains move!” And even now, as I write this blog, I am moved to tears. (It’s actually more of a big ugly cry- you know the kind I’m talking about.) Little did I know how much faith, and trust, and surrender would be required this year. How little I understood about all our family would experience - not just in storm but in so many other areas of our lives- both in extraordinary blessing and in tribulation. It’s as if Jesus was preparing my heart with that prayer – “Lord, increase my faith” – for the mountains and valleys He knew we would travel together in 2012.
Just now recognizing this tempts me to make my 2013 prayer something along the lines of “Lord, increase my peace.” This girl would just love more peace.
Yes I want peace - the kind that quiets the storm in my heart, even as the winds rage about me. I want peace that is unmoved by my circumstances and fully rooted in the soul soothing knowledge that He is for me.
Because what the trials ~ and blessings ~ of 2012 have reminded me is that my heart will never be fully satisfied in anything other than Christ alone and His righteousness. Nothing in this world compares to knowing He has me, He holds me, He carries me, He loves me.
So in the mundane and in the monumental moments of 2013, I just want to fall more in love with the one who loved me first.
I want a heart that is so captivated by His love for me, that I desire nothing less than to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. To glorify Him in my every thought, word, and deed because I am so smitten with the way He loves me in spite of my every sinful and selfish thought, word, and deed.
I want a life fully and wholly surrendered to His glory. And I want a life that reveals the glory of His grace.
All this I want in 2013.
Yet, even so, this was my prayer this morning…..
“Lord, whatever you have been preparing my heart for in 2013 I want to live it passionately and fearlessly in you. But fearless I have not been in the last several days. Better said, fear has gotten ahold of my heart in the last few days- and oh, it is so toxic. It has robbed me of some precious moments with my kids while on Christmas vacation. And it has stolen my sleep at night. Lord, you still remember we need another home right? And you know all this uncertainty and transition can’t be good for our kids, right?”
I pray as if I know better than Jesus what He can redeem for our good and His glory. I pray doubting that His thoughts for me outnumber the grains of sand. I pray forgetting that He has searched me and knows me, and that there is nowhere, not anywhere, that His hand will not guide me and hold me fast. (Psalm 139)
Thankfully, the validity of my prayer does not dictate His willingness to hear it.
Hear my cry, O God. Listen to my prayer. I call to You from the end of the earth when my heart is weak. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
All these things that I desire in 2013 - they are the fruit of a more intimate prayer life with Jesus. And so my prayer for 2013 - it is this, “Lord, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
To lay every burden, every joy, every fear, and every blessing before the Lord. To abide and wait patiently before the Lord. To grow deeper and more dependent on Christ.
Hear my prayer, O Lord. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.