New Year Prayers

We find ourselves at another New Year’s Eve! Where does the time go?

If I have mentioned this before on the blog, then I do apologise! There is a church near me who likes to pray in the new year. They hold a gathering in the evening, and begin a late night service together so that the congregation can be praying as the clock strikes twelve. I think this is a wonderful practice, and a great way to start 2022 off in the right way.

Jesus often prayed through the night, such as:

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Luke 6:12

I too want to start 2022 off in prayer. Due to other commitments, I cannot guarantee that I’ll actually be praying when the stroke of midnight comes, but I do want to spend some time today with the Lord.

For at least part of my prayers, I want this verse from the psalms to be a focus:

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:8

Every day this new year, let the Lord’s love be directed towards us, and may He sing over us in the night. May we each be rooted and grounded in His love which endures forever! Let us rejoice in His forgiveness, and joy that comes from knowing He remembers our sins no more!

I know that not everyone will be starting this new year in a state of joy, and many face trials of various kinds. So, how can I pray for you? What is happening in your life and how can I lift these things to our gracious God?

There are numerous ways to get in touch with me and let me know your prayer requests or praise reports. Simply comment below if easiest, and others can join in praying also. If your request is more private, please use the Contact form.

As ever, I consider it a tremendous privilege to pray for you. I believe in the power of prayer, and believe that God is ever active and responsive to the calls of His people.

In years gone by, my family and I have kept a “blessing jar” where we note down the blessings that have come to us throughout the year. We jot down anything from promotions at work, to special times of worship, to new friends made. Then, on New Year’s Eve, we go through them and remind ourselves of the goodness of God.

What do you have to be thankful for this year? There were no doubt many problems that you faced, and many you overcame. What has God done for you this year that you could thank Him for? As well as your prayer requests, I’d be glad to offer up a word of thanks to Him too. We are a family, and as God blesses you, I rejoice in that too!

Whatever you are doing this New Year’s Eve, be it a big party or a quiet time alone at home, take a moment to thank Jesus for the year gone by and say a word of prayer for the year to come.

May God richly bless you and those you love in the next twelve months!

End of Another Year

As we approach the end of another year, it has become my practice to review what has been, and to look ahead to what may come.

2021 has been a tough year for many people, and likewise, my own family has seen a number of struggles. In early January, my grandmother (who we affectionately called the “Queen” of our family) went home to be with the Lord. She held the Word of God on her lips and held it in her heart as she left us, and this Christmas was not the same without her.

On the day of my grandmother’s funeral, we learned that my mother-in-law had again been diagnosed with cancer, and this awful disease took her from us in July.

It would be all too easy to focus on the negatives of this year, and by doing so start to believe that it was a “bad” year. There were many things to be thankful for however, such as our family moving into a wonderful new home in late summer, and my eldest daughter making the transition into secondary school.

Every year is a mix of tears and laughter, joy and pain. Sometimes the balance feels one way or the other, but I thank God that He walks with us through each and every step.

I am not big on “regrets” as it seems unproductive to waste energy on things that cannot be changed. Had I my time again though, I would have liked to prioritise this blog and my writing projects more. It was probably my most successful year on the blog, depending on how you measure success and yet I had little time to give to it in the latter part of this year. Even less time was given to my two unfinished books, and I want to put that right in 2022.

Like most other people I know, I only have 24 hours a days and seven days per week. It is what you do with those hours that matters. I cannot give this blog or my book projects more time by turning days into 26 or 28 hours… instead, I need to prioritise what is important. Lord, help me to do this right! As a starting point, I intend to cut back on a few other commitments so that I can focus on writing more.

I am particularly excited about a project my wife and I are starting. While that may sound contradictory to what I said above about cutting back, this project won’t take a huge amount of time for me, but do pray for my wife! I am keen to talk more about it, but will save the details for another post in future once it takes shape. Watch this space!

I want to close out this post by thinking about something God has been speaking to me about. The Lord drew my attention to these verses from the book of James:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25 (NIV)

God wants me to be a “doer” this coming year, and not just a “hearer.”

I frequently listen to Christian teaching in the form of podcasts. My feed has over a hundred different episodes to be listened to. This stems from pre-COVID days when I used to commute daily. I would spend my time on the train listening to various things. Now, working from home mostly, I have less time to consume content like this.

I believe God has been showing me that while listening to such materials is great, the aim of the exercise is not to reduce the length of my feed and delete another completed episode, rather it is to learn something. I think God wants me to listen to fewer messages, but to really engage with the ones that I do.

James encourages believers to not just listen to the Bible, but to do what it says. Don’t just attend church, nod along to your pastor’s sermon, and then forget all about it by Monday morning. Take notes. Write down some actions. Ask yourself what you will do differently because of what you have heard. Only then will we be “doers of the Word.”

I hope and pray that you will have a blessed 2022. I know that the Lord has a good plan for your life, and His love for you has no limits. That does not mean 2022 won’t have its fair share of problems, but you can face them with Jesus by your side.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for reading any of my posts this year. I remain truly humbled that anyone wants to read my words, and your comments and messages of encouragement are such a blessing to me. I thank the Lord for each of you.

You cannot change the things of 2021, but you can walk into 2022 determined to serve the Lord.

I leave you with these verses from Revelation:

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.

12 In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

Revelation 5:11-13 (NIV)

He is indeed worthy! Praise His holy Name! Amen!

Approaching 2021

It is that time of year again, and many are turning to the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. I was listening to the radio this morning, and this was the subject of their phone calls.

I am not a huge fan of new year’s resolutions I must admit, knowing that many who start them have often broken them by mid-January!

New year’s resolutions are largely about forming good habits or breaking bad ones. This is good practice, but I suppose my issue is that assigning them to 1st January is a little arbitrary. If you know today that you have a bad habit you want to break, then don’t put it off until the new year, start breaking it today! Likewise, if you want to start doing something positive, don’t wait, just get cracking!

As we approach the new year however, I am starting to think about what I want to focus on. I am continuing to study through the Course in Christian Studies, so that will take up a fair bit of my time. In terms of my personal study though, there are a couple of areas I feel led to focus on.

Firstly, I want to think about the subject of words. I listened to a series of sermons on our words and their power a few weeks ago, and it reminded me how important the things we say actually are. I have noticed that my words aren’t always positive, and I want to ensure that I speak well.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,

Ephesians 5:18-19 (NIV)

The Bible has much to say about the words we use, and is itself the very Word of God. God’s Words contain great power, and truth be told, ours do as well. As we know, words can inflict great harm on others but can also turn around the life of someone in despair or trouble.

We will give an account for every word we utter, and I want to make sure my words are those pleasing to God.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

Matthew 12:36 (NIV)

As well as the subject of words, I’ve also felt compelled to use my study time to examine the four Gospels. I want to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection. I want to know Him, really know Him for all that He is, and the best way to do that is to study His life, words and actions as recorded in the Gospels.

I am in no way dismissing the rest of the Bible, and there is much you can learn about Jesus from its pages, but it is on my heart to really hone in on Christ and His earthly life.

More specifically though, I want to  spend some time really digging into two particular chapters and a set of Jesus’ parables. These are those from Luke 15 and 16. I’ve also been listening to a set of messages about the Prodigal Son from Luke 15, and it has such astonishing depths and much to tell us about Christ. It is not so much about this one prodigal son as it is about the love of the Father, and the equally lost older brother.

Luke 16 has Jesus sharing some parables about a dishonest steward and also the Rich Man and Lazarus. Both of those, interestingly enough, are connected by the idea of how we handle our wealth. The dishonest steward steals from his master, and then uses that same ill-gotten gain to influence his future. Similarly, we see the rich man enjoying his wealth at the expense of his eternal life.

If you are interested, I wrote a three-part series on the Rich Man and Lazarus earlier this year. Strangely, part two was by far the most popular! I am not sure why that is exactly, perhaps I included a tag that keeps popping up on search engines! Anyway, you can read all three parts at the following links.

I am very much looking forward to the new year. This year has been tough for many of us in many ways, and lots of us are hopeful that 2021 is much more positive. There will no doubt be challenges ahead, but I hope and pray it will be a better year for you.

What will you be focusing on? Will you make New Year’s Resolutions, or like me, will you just take each day at a time? Feel free to comment below and tell me what your focus is for this year.

I know it is a few days away still, but may I wish you a very happy and blessed 2021!