New Year’s Day 2020 is a time for celebration, reflection, and prayer. The change of calendar empowers many to revive imagination and renew hopes dashed by disappointment. While people pack into places like Times Square in New York City and gather in ballrooms and in homes, others mourn and fear. Attacks on celebrants of Christian Communion and Jewish Hanukkah during a festival of lights and hopes for peace among all have jolted American citizens. Bitterness invades political discourse and worse, embitters people of faith against one another when a believer is angered that his friend is compromising critical matters of doctrine. Families, stressed by hidden abuse and betrayal, or simply weariness from working hard to survive, begin to unravel. This past year has been a time of uncertainty for my wife and me, as well, as we seek a new place to live and serve. These times of dichotomy in emotion awaken us and open our hearts to the prayers of lamentation and penitence like Psalm 143. We fear chaos and crave order. We cry out urgently to God. Desperate prayer carries a fear that no one listens, that no one hears the cry for help. So we pray, as the Psalmist prayed,
“Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgement, for no one living is righteous before you. The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed” (Psalm 142:1-4).
We pray with the Psalmist. We remember our sins, how we have hurt others or disappointed ourselves by denying our values in our speech or actions. We remember as we pray, too, what God did in the history of his people, and reflect on beauty in his Creation. Despite our anger and our fears, we long to trust God fully. We yearn to enjoy life again. Perhaps you, like I, want to pray to God,
“I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 143:6-7).
During the last year, my heart has broken as I have been denied opportunity. At the same time, I have realized how I still may grow in ministry for the Lord. I have prayed, I have studied, I have listened even when I heard harsh words spoken by people who had not listened fully to me. These words have been my prayer,
“Rescue me from my enemies, LORD, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble” (Psalm 143:10-11).
So, as we enter a new year, L pray that I may preach, teach, sing, and write effectively for the Lord. I pray that each one of us may grow in our awareness of God’s love for us and his intent for our lives, that we may learn to do his will and keep in step with his spirit. May our hopes be renewed, and as we awaken into a new year, let us pray along with Psalm 143:8:
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
I wish you a happy a new year in 2020. Thank you for reading my “Call for Fire Seminar” blog. I invite you to visit the Call for Fire Facebook page and Twitter feed as well. If I may present the seminar on learning how to pray from the prayers in the Bible to your church or organization, please let me know. May you see clearly how to follow God in 2020. Pray hard, my friends.
• Bible quotations are from the New International Version 2011.