New Year’s Prayers and Resolutions
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As the New Year begins, many people are looking forward with a measure of trepidation to what lies ahead for them and their families and friends, as well as for the world in general. It’s comforting to know that whatever the future holds and whatever problems or hardships you may face, Jesus wants to help you through them.
In the Gospel of John, chapters 14 through 17, we find some of the most moving passages in Scripture. Jesus was spending time with His closest followers, talking with them, teaching them, praying for them, and encouraging them—preparing them for the fact that He would soon be leaving this physical realm, and explaining that His Spirit would continue to always be with them.
He reminded them that He was their passage to heaven,1 and told them about the beautiful mansions He would make ready for them there.2 He promised to answer their prayers.3 He told them about the Holy Spirit.4 He promised them supernatural peace.5
He taught them the importance of remaining close to Him in spirit in order to have the kind of life He wanted for them.6 He called them His friends.7 He challenged them to share His love and truth with others, and promised to reward them for doing so by answering their prayers and working through them.8 He promised grace and peace through tribulation, and confidently proclaimed that He had overcome the world9—“the world” meaning the godlessness that prevails in this temporal world.
Then He prayed for His disciples. “Father, I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”10
It’s not easy to live in the world and not be tossed about by the “waves” of this world’s woes, but it is not impossible. The secret is to keep your eyes on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith,”11 and to trust Him to keep you afloat.12 He has promised to be with you now and forever, through thick and thin,13 and nothing can separate you from His loving care.14—Maria Fontaine
The year ahead
May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,
and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.
Like the Master
The New Year is already here and I am still contemplating what my resolution should be. I am not overweight and I get enough exercise, so those won’t do for me. I was actually thinking more along the lines of a spiritual goal or some personality traits that I could try to strengthen, some way to become a better person.
In something I read once, someone made an interesting point: When trying to tackle a problem you face, or grow in some way in your spiritual life, ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” and go from there.
I was curious to find out more about this now widely used phrase and its origins, so I did a search on the Internet and found that the phrase “What would Jesus do?” and its acronym, WWJD, have been used by Christians for over 100 years as a reference point to follow Christ’s example in their daily lives.
So that’s my New Year’s resolution. I will try to get in the habit of asking myself “What would Jesus do?” I made a list of some things that I can do to follow His example on a day-to-day basis.
- I can make time each day for prayer, as Jesus did.
- I can love without discrimination, as Jesus did.
- I can make time for children, even if I’m busy, as Jesus did.
- I can try to handle difficult situations wisely, as Jesus did.
- I can humble myself, as Jesus did.
- I can serve others, as Jesus did.
- I can be a peacemaker, as Jesus was.
- I can do my best to conform to God’s plan for my life, as Jesus did.
This “What would Jesus do?” looks like a pretty tall order for me, but I have memorized a verse from the Bible that tells me that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,”16 which will serve as a reminder to me when it feels like an impossible task.
My prayer is that with time it will become automatic for me to ask myself “What would Jesus do?” and respond accordingly.—Martin McTeg
Be our light for the New Year
Come, Holy Spirit,
Spirit of the Risen Christ, be with us today and always.
Be our Light, our Guide, and our Comforter.
Be our Strength, our Courage, and our Sanctifier.
May this new year be a time of deep spiritual growth for us,
A time of welcoming your graces and gifts,
A time for forgiving freely and unconditionally,
A time for growing in virtue and goodness.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Be with us today and always.
Steps for reaching New Year goals
Another year is behind us, and a brand-new year, brimming with possibilities, lies ahead. How can we make the most of it? According to U.S. fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne, it’s simply a matter of setting realistic goals and sticking with them.
In reference to a perennial favorite New Year’s resolution, getting in better physical shape, LaLanne said in a 2000 AP interview, “The average person means well, [but] they set their goals too high. They do it two or three times and say, ‘This is too tough.’ And they quit. Staying in shape is a lifestyle. It is not something you do for two weeks or four months to lose 20 pounds. It is something you do for the rest of your life, just like combing your hair.” And LaLanne knew what he was saying, as at the time he still worked out daily, kept a busy schedule of public appearances, and looked much younger than his 93 years.
The “realistic” and “lifestyle” principles apply to almost any New Year’s resolution, of course. Ask yourself, “Is this goal realistic?” and, “Is it important enough for me to adapt my lifestyle accordingly?” If the answer to both questions is yes, determine precisely how you will work the change into your daily or weekly routine, and then do another reality check. What other interest or activity will need to go in order to make room for the new? Are you willing to make that sacrifice? If the answer is again yes, all that remains is for you to stick with it long enough to make it a habit. If it was a wise choice, chances are it won’t be long until its benefits outweigh any initial sacrifice.
And, of course, the best way to ensure success in reaching your goals is to include God in the process, step by step. Ask Him to show you what changes will be most beneficial, and ask Him daily to give you the strength, patience, and determination you need to succeed that day, and He will.—Keith Phillips
Help us enter the New Year
God of all time,
Help us enter the New Year quietly,
Thoughtful of who we are to ourselves and to others,
Mindful that our steps make an impact
and our words carry power.
May we walk gently.
May we speak only after we have listened well.
Creator of all life,
Help us enter the New Year reverently,
Aware that you have endowed
Every creature and plant, every person and habitat
with beauty and purpose.
May we regard the world with tenderness.
May we honor rather than destroy.
Lover of all souls,
Help us enter the New Year joyfully,
Willing to laugh and dance and dream,
Remembering our many gifts with thanks
and looking forward to blessings yet to come.
May we welcome your lavish love…
May the grace and peace of Christ bless you now and in the days ahead.
—Vinita Hampton Wright18
Published on Anchor January 2022. Read by Jon Marc.
Music by John Listen.
1 John 14:6.
2 John 14:2–3.
3 John 14:13–14.
4 John 14:16, 26.
5 John 14:27.
6 John 15:1, 3–5.
7 John 15:15.
8 John 15:8, 16.
9 John 16:33.
10 John 17:15–18 NKJV.
11 Hebrews 12:2.
12 Matthew 14:25–31.
13 Hebrews 13:5.
14 Romans 8:37–39.
16 Philippians 4:13.