As we turn the page and begin a new year in our lives, I wonder, what this new year will hold. What new joys await us this next year? What challenges? What trials and heartaches? What new lessons? What dreams will come true, and what new ones will be birthed?
The great news is that God is the author of 2016! He knows each and every twist and turn that lay ahead both for you and for me. He has planned 2016 down to the tiniest detail—all with the goal of his glory and our good.
So when it comes to facing the new and unexpected, when the future seems frightening and uncertain, and when we come to a new and unfamiliar junction in the road of life, the best and greatest thing we can do is pray.
While the list of things we could pray for this year is endless, I’ve created a list to get us started. Will you join me in praying these things for ourselves and others?
- That we would know the love of Christ.This is one of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians. It is a prayer that opens our eyes to seeing Christ’s love in new and fresh ways.
“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:17-19).
- That we would love God’s Word.It was God’s Word that started this blue marble that we call Earth spinning and twirling in the darkness. It is His Word that brings life and sustains life. It is His Word that decreed redemption was accomplished when Christ cried out on the cross, “It is finished!” And it is His written Word that shows us the path of life.Scripture tells us all we need to know about who God is and what He has done for us in Christ. It also His Word that changes us and sanctifies us.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
Let us pray this year for hearts that love God’s Word.
- That we would desire Christ above all else.We cannot love God on our own. Left to our own devices, we would only love ourselves. Only God can bring our dead hearts to life, giving us hearts that love and desire to obey Him.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Eze. 36:36).
Let us pray this year for hearts that love Christ above all else. Let us pray for hearts that are dissatisfied with the fast-food offerings of this world. Instead, let’s pray that we would develop a taste for the rich and deeply satisfying love of Christ.
- That God would show us the idols of our heart.All the things we bow down to in our heart—the things that we love more than Christ—are idols. Success, affection, affirmation, money, possessions, family, jobs, can all be idols of the heart. Pray that God would reveal what idols stand tall on the altar of your heart. Pray that He would help you remove them and put greater love for Christ in their place.
- That we would be quick to repent.Martin Luther described the Christian life as one of repentance. As long as we live in this sin-stained world, we will continue to sin. Let us pray for hearts that are quick to repent. May we readily turn to the cross and apply what Christ has done for us, washing ourselves anew in His forgiving grace.
- That we would think less about ourselves.Tim Keller says, “The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” This year, let us pray that we would spend less time consumed with ourselves and more time thinking about loving God and loving others.
- That we would have gospel joy.Gospel joy is the joy that anchors us in the midst of the ferocious storms of life. It is the constant steady horizon in the swells of life. It stays with us no matter our circumstances. This is something I pray for quite often because I tend to notice the storm clouds and forget the sun shining above them. Gospel joy comes from knowing what Christ has done for us, who we are because of Him, and the eternal hope we have through Him.
- That we would love like Christ.Just as we can’t love God on our own, we can’t love others on our own either. We need to pray that we would have a love like Christ—the kind of love that seeks the best in others, takes the last place, serves, and sacrifices. The apostle John said that we love because God first loved us. This year, may we focus on the love Christ has for us, and may it propel us to love others as He loves us.
- That God’s will would be done.In the fictional Mitford book series, Father Tim would tell others that he was “praying the prayer that never fails.” Praying that God’s will would be done is the prayer that never fails. May we submit all our prayers and desires to God’s will, trusting that His will is perfect, holy, righteous, and good.