December 28, 2012
Prayer for a New Year
By Skip Heitzig
I once read that only 50 percent of people are looking optimistically at the future. A couple of years before it was about 70 percent. More and more people look at the new year with doubt and fear, and fewer people look at it with confidence.
It should be different for us as Christians. We should be excited, confident, and joyful about the future. One reason is that we’re one year closer to heaven than we were a year ago. It’s always going to get better. Number two, because Jesus said He would be with us to the very end of the age. So what do we have to worry about, if He’s got us in His hands? So let’s be excited about 2013!
I want to give you something to use as a kind of New Year’s prayer.
Psalm 20 shows King David laying his future in God’s hands. He records his anticipation, then moves to conviction, and finally to decision. Because of what he hopes for and because of what he knows of God’s character, David makes a decision to trust in the Lord. As you learn from this prayer, make a decision to do the same.
As believers, we should live in anticipation of God’s answers to our prayers. David says, “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble” (Psalm 20:1). We all face times of trouble. But in those times, we can call upon the Lord with the expectation that He will answer us. David finishes verse 1, “May the name of the God of Jacob defend you.” This reminds us that God was the God of a person who failed. And it reminds us that God will restore. When you fall flat on your face, you can run directly to God for shelter.
We can also anticipate strength in times of fellowship. “May He send you help from the sanctuary,” David says, “and strengthen you out of Zion” (v. 2). The sanctuary was the place where people met with God. They heard God’s thoughts and their perspective changed. As you encounter troubles, expect that your God will give you answers when you spend time with Him.
Then secondly, David states his conviction. He knows that he is accepted, he is heard, and he is blessed: “May He remember all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice. May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand” (vv. 3-6).
We have this privilege: God accepts us, and we have standing with Him because of the finished work of our Savior upon the cross. We can have an audience with God, and He will hear us and answer our prayers. Put these things all together and recognize the reasons for rejoicing! Let your conviction of God’s acceptance of you and His listening ear bring you joy regardless of your life’s circumstances.
The anticipation of God’s activity and the conviction of His faithfulness should lead us to two significant decisions. Not resolutions that we will break, but strong decisions toward living godly lives. Our first decision is to refuse to be like the world. Rejoice that you are different. Fight the tendency to bring the world’s values into the church. Instead, take what is inside the church to the world.
The second decision you can make is to trust in the Lord your God. David confidently says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (v. 7). Today we might say, “Some trust in missiles and tanks, but we will trust in the Lord.” Or we could say, “Some trust in ancestry or education and degrees, but we’re going to rely on God.” Bottom line, David’s hymn of praise and vision inspired the nation he led to trust God to handle the unknown twists and turns of life in a real and often hurtful world—excellent advice for all of us.
So as a new year begins, pray that the Scriptures will inspire the anticipation that God will act on your behalf. Let that anticipation become a strong conviction resting on the character of God. Then, based on that, make the decision to trust in Him.
I wish you a blessed New Year!
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