Pastoral Series

Prayer: Gratitude, Commitment and Freedom

   When I started out in ministry, quite a few churches had “Watch Night” services – on New Year’s Eve. Puzzled on learning this, I asked an older pastor friend why we would do such a thing. He chuckled and said “Keeps people from drinking too much.”

There are better answers. John Wesley gathered as many Methodists as he could on New Year’s Eve for a time of gratitude, prayer, celebration and seeking God’s guidance. The prayer to be prayed each year is this: “I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious God, you are mine and I am yours.”

That’s light years from New Year’s resolutions about losing a few pounds or reading more books. My life is yours, O God. Put me to… whatever. There’s the way to begin a year.

The African-American community does this turn in the year so very well. Kwanzaa is ending – those days after Christmas when families and friends gather for festive meals and thoughtful conversations about gratitude, heritage, ancestors, ethics and love. New Year’s Eve is a big deal, with well-attended worship services – recalling the Emancipation Proclamation, released by Abraham Lincoln on New Year’s Day, 1863. A charter of freedom, right after days of fellowship and joy. More light years from New Year’s resolutions.

Take some time today to look back with gratitude, and prayers for healing. Share your heart on these things with someone. Then look ahead with freedom and hope. You belong to God. Let him have your very self in 2019.

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