There are only a few days of 2012 left. Most of us take the opportunity a new year offers to refocus, perhaps make some changes (you could call them resolutions), and in general start the year with a clean slate.
Our church is doing the same thing. At the beginning of 2013, our pastors are calling for “21 Days of Night & Day Prayer.” During those three weeks, people will be praying round the clock, 24/7. We can sign up for a specific shift at a prayer room, or just show up at any time. Everyone is welcome. And of course, we can pray on our own as well.
In addition, there will be scheduled corporate prayer times every morning at 6:30am and at 12 noon in our church’s chapel. Again, we can attend all of these sessions, or just some of them. They’re hoping everyone will come at least once, but no one will be taking attendance; it’s between us and God. We’ll spend this time together praying for our families, our church, our city and our world.
Pete and I are excited to participate. Hopefully, after three weeks, we’ll have formed habits that will last all year. Not that we don’t pray now, but more than ever before, I’d really like to make 2013 the year we prayed!
Talk… and Listen
In addition to the “official” topics listed above, I plan to add one more. I intend to spend time listening.
So often when we pray, we tend to do all the talking. I want to make sure that God has a chance to get a word in! What plans does he have for me this coming year? Is there something I need to prepare for? Might he be leading in a new direction? I don’t expect the complete plan all explained in advance—God doesn’t work that way. He’d rather we stick close, holding onto him for moment by moment guidance. Still, God does often give us the general idea about what he’s got in mind.
For example, a year before moving to Colorado, Pete and I got the sense that it was time to prepare the house for sale. We were led to pull up roots, to not volunteer for coming events. We guessed we were moving, but at first we didn’t know why, or even where! When the time came that we did need to know those things, God told us.
In the same way, we know God has some surprises up his sleeve for 2013. We have an inkling what some of those surprises might involve, but we sure don’t have the details. So, I plan to listen, and listen hard.
I’ll probably bring a journal to write down impressions I get as I pray. If God goes to the trouble to say something, I sure don’t want to forget what he says! Plus, writing things down helps keep me focused… and awake. (Don’t tell me you never fall asleep while praying.)
Prayer… and Fasting
The church is also encouraging people to fast. I’m asking God how he wants me to respond. I have blood sugar issues that make it very difficult to go completely without food, and so-called juice fasts are even worse, but that doesn’t mean I should never fast. Perhaps I’ll fast something other than food, or maybe I’ll concentrate on veggies and whole grains (such as steel-cut oats and bulgar), and skip the fancy stuff. The important thing is that that I’m less distracted and able to focus more on God during those three weeks, and that I have a chance to practice self control.
There are so many resolutions we tend to make over and over—stick to a diet, get more exercise, watch less TV, be nicer to that person we really don’t like that much. And by the end of January, most (if not all) of those good intentions are long forgotten. Starting the year in prayer seems a much more positive approach. I may not be able to stick to my resolutions, but God always keeps his promises!
Are you doing something special to start the new year?