In about a week or more, many people’s thoughts will be switching from celebrating the Christmas season to getting things ready for the new year. I always enjoy the “best of” recaps of 2010, whether it be sports, global news, music, or books. With every year we will no doubt hear several news stories about the kind of New Year’s resolutions that people are making. These show will trot out some “life coach” or personal development guru to give us a road map to helping us keep those resolutions for longer then 2 weeks.
Reflecting on the past year and thinking about the year to come is a healthy thing to do. Figuring out things we would like to change and make commitments to change them is also a very natural way to start a new year. Yet, we fail so often to keep our own resolutions because in the end we humans, just aren’t that resolute.
This shouldn’t surprise any Christian. New Year’s resolutions are great, but Christians above all people should realize the internal fatal flaw in New Year’s resolutions, namely that they are made by humans. Christians, you remember, are the same people that confess our inability of saving our selves from sin. This of course is true. We can’t save ourselves from our own sin. So what hope do we have in really keeping our own resolutions, unless your only resolution is to break all your resolutions by January 15th.
So instead of “making” resolutions this year I thought about praying them instead. Praying puts the proper prospective on changes we wish to make. Praying our resolutions removes the “pull myself up by my boot straps” mentality that these things so often carry and inserts the proper reliance on God’s grace to accomplish through us things that glorify him rather then make us feel better. Also I think we should try to pray in away that is first of all grateful for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ and secondly thankful for what we already have. Rather then praying that God would “rubber stamp” any changes we want to make.
Below is a list of the top ten 2010 New Year’s resolutions along with an example of ways we could pray them rather then “will” them.
2010 Top Ten Resolutions
1. Stop Smoking
Prayer: Thank God for your life over the past year. Thank God for the different ways He has graced you with health. Thank Him for your able body (in whatever state it is in). Confess the sin of addiction. Ask the Holy Spirit to so reveal the beauty of Christ to your heart through His word that all addictions would appear as obstacles to seeing to beauty of Jesus Christ daily.
2. Get into a Habit of being Fit
Prayer: Again, thank God for health, life, and a body that has the ability to even want to exercise. Pray that our body image would be seen through the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather then the fake body images the world wants us to desire (this is huge especially if you are a woman). Pray that we would worry more about being a good steward of what God has given us in our mortal bodies and less about whether we have six pack abs. Pray that God would help us have balance in all areas of our life. Pray that God would put in us a heart that wakes up hungry for His Word before our natural bodies are ever hungry for food or to get fit. Pray also that if disease or sickness befall you this year, you would have the grace to suffer through it to the glory of God.
3. Lose Weight – the Battle of the Bulge
Prayer: This would be much like number 1 and 2 combined. For many people, food is an addiction.
4. Enjoy Life More.
Prayer: Thank God for life. Thank Him for specific ways you have seen him move over the past year. Thank Him that because of Jesus Christ your life looks most different. Thank him that because of the blood of His Son, death has no sting. Ask Him to reveal through the Holy Spirit and His Word the beauty of life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask him to reveal to your heart the ways that the Gospel has now allowed us to live life, and that more abundent then all. Ask him to connect with our hearts and our minds how wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Jesus Christ leads to the most enjoyable life. Ask him to give us a heart for the eternal life so that we live not by “Carpe diem” but “Carpe aeternitas”.
5. Quit Drinking
Prayer: Much like 1, 2, and 3
6. Organise Yourself
Prayer: Thank God the abundance of riches that we have as Americans. Ask him to help us see that we are limited and that He is the only one that gets through his to-do list each and everyday. Confess our limited abilities here. Ask him to keep this in our minds as we try to organize our lives. Ask him to so remind our hearts that no life is organized apart from the Gospel. We are not perfect, so ask that our desire to be organized and a desire to have a perfect, controlled environment at all times, not be confused.
7. Learn Something New
Prayer: Praise God for your mental capacity. Your ability to read, write, speak, hear, and do amazing things with your body and mind realizing they are gifts from him. Pray first that we would continue to grow in His word, in knowledge of Him and His Son. Ask that we would not take life for granted and that we would take risks for the Gospel. Even if that means learning something new. Ask that He would guard our hearts against the fear of man that may come against us as we try to do something new for the first time. Ask him what new things He might have us try in order to spread the Gospel better.
8. Get out of Debt
Prayer: Thank God for the abundance of provision that he has blessed upon us and our families. Pray that we would teach us to suffer and sacrifice in all areas, much like His Son did. Thank Him that no matter what happens to us in the area of finance, that He has paid our biggest debt. In many ways we are debt free and let that be the catalyst for living debt free in all other areas of our lives as well.
9. Spend More Time With Family
Prayer: Thank God for the blessing of family. Thank him for the blessing of the family we now have in Jesus Christ through His Church. Thank Him that because of his Son we are now adopted children in His family. Pray that he would help us foster true relationships with our family. Pray for the strength to worship with our families, pray with our families, and share the Gospel with our families. Pray that he would lead us in a proper balance of family entertainment and family worship. Pray that he would so kindle our love for our families that other distractions like internet usage, tv , and movies would diminish in the light of the gift of family.
10. Help People.
Thank Him for the Gospel. Thank Him that He first helped us. Ask that we would have his heart for people. That he would give us both wisdom and zeal as to how to help our neighbor. Pray that our boldness for the Gospel would be infectious.
So there are some examples of ways to pray our resolutions instead of willing them to be so. By No Means are they perfect ways to pray these resolutions. Just simply a different take on a long tradition.