Have you ever prayed about what the next year may hold?
Really? I mean…seriously and wholeheartedly…?
A few years ago, I was introduced to the practice of praying for a theme for the New Year. When I first started this practice, I took the procrastinator’s approach and waited until New Year’s Eve to attempt to wing some prayers and receive a solid answer from God. The dilemma that I faced in the beginning was I received very little clarity from God. Our “everything is urgent” culture subconsciously teaches us to approach Insta-God and want everything (and everyone) now without investing in the relationship or the process. I could not get clarity because I was not very invested in the process.
Over the past few years, I have learned to start praying for the New Year around Thanksgiving and leading up until Christmas. Because I started sooner, I am given more time with God to allow Him to speak to where I need to be molded to be more like Him and less like myself. To quote the Pauline Epistles: “I must decrease, therefore, so He can increase.” When God gives me clear direction about very important things, He seems to give me bits and pieces to the puzzle. I do not get all of the pieces at once. God might give me an edge piece or one of those goofy pieces that does not make sense; however, He works when I give Him some time and attention.
As you figure out a good time to begin praying for the New Year, please center yourself in checking in with others who will hold you accountable. Find people who you trust and know that their hearts are also in the right place. Remember that you should have conversations with these folks more than once a year about your “theme.”
The hardest part is now here…prayer. Pray for a theme for the New Year that you NEED. DO NOT approach prayer with an attitude that you rub a magical lamp and the genie God appears. Your theme is not for you to become an instant billionaire. Maybe your theme is to be better with your finances. Your theme is not for you to lose 30 pounds. Maybe your theme is for you take better care of your body both physically and emotionally. If we seek God honestly, He will show us a theme that will rock our world.
Over the past few years, I have been given the following themes: back to the basics, the comeback, and the others. In the year of “back to the basics,” I dove back into my writing with new energy as I had writer’s block hanging over my soul for several years. In the year of “the comeback,” I returned to preaching in the local church on guest occasions. I also accepted several leadership positions that I had ran from previously—like Forrest Gump. This year (2016) has been the year of “the others.” When I first received this word from God last year, I could not grasp who and what the others were. As time progressed, God showed me that the people closest to me and complete strangers were “the others.”
In the spring, I had to replace my car. My car had racked up serious miles and I drive a lot for my job so I needed a durable vehicle. My wife suggested this older vehicle that she saw at an RV center on her way to work. The vehicle was older than my current vehicle but less miles and we could purchase it outright with cash. The skeptic in me did not want to leap; my wife’s faith was a light to me. We bought the “Grandpa car” (as I call it) and didn’t know what to do with my other car.
I approached some used-car dealers but everyone wanted to give me a few dollars. Then I heard about a ministry that takes used cars and fixes them and gives them to people who are struggling financially. Within a few weeks, my car was out of our driveway and in the hands of someone needing a new beginning.
My year of “the others” also taught me another valuable lesson: how to deal with the homeless. Yes, it is easy to throw some money into the Salvation Army kettle at Christmas but to actually interact with a homeless person is a different encounter. Over the past year, I have kept extra non-perishable food and bottled water in the trunk of my car. If I spot someone seeking assistance, I am then able to meet their needs and give them a smile.
I tell you about my yearly themes because they have stretched my faith in ways that I never could have been challenged had I done things “the same old way.”
Be open to a theme for the New Year. It may just rock your faith.
Copyright 2016 Jason Weirich