Happy New Year!
So many of us have been looking forward to making the end of 2020 and a fresh start in 2021. It’s not just the normal slew of new year’s resolutions and fresh starts, but there’s an additional layer to it, almost like we all breathed a collective sigh when the day arrived. And as wonderful as this is, there’s also an aspect to all this that is optional. Dec 31 to Jan 1 was just a Thursday to a Friday, and if we don’t take the time and make the effort to engage this marking point intentionally, it will stay just one day after another.
There are a lot of ways to approach the year intentionally, and I’d love to hear how you’re doing so. One way that I’m approaching it is following the model of the Lord’s Prayer.
Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
- MATTHEW 6:9-13
We normally think of this as a model for authentic prayer, which it certainly is as Jesus taught us. But this prayer holds such depth and we can also use it as a guide - a structure of sorts — to build our intentions and efforts for the new year.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name
The very first phrase in this prayer, and in our approach to any venture including our new year, is acknowledging the One we pray to, the One we can look to in every moment. He’s our Father, which reveals intimacy and familiarity, but he’s also in heaven, which is incomprehensibly vast and beyond our understanding. He’s also holy, to be revered, respected, never taken for granted. So there’s this juxtaposition immediately presented to us to remind us of how to approach God: near and intimate, sacred and powerful.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
After acknowledging who we pray to the very first thing asked for has nothing to do with us — it’s a desire for His will first. For His kingdom to come is for Jesus to rule in our hearts as we live lives of increased devotion, and we become carriers of that Kingdom, sharing His love with those around us. For His will to be done on earth as in heaven is for God’s perfect will to be increasingly revealed to us, so that we can recognize Him at work.
It’s counterintuitive to enter prayer without asking anything of God for ourselves, but this is the invitation. To set aside the needs of our hearts (which are known and cared about by God) in order to first acknowledge who He is and ask for Him to have His desires. Only after that does this model of prayer Jesus gives us guide us into our own asks. How is God inviting you to be part of His kingdom’s expansion in 2021 as a priority over everything else?
Give us this day our daily bread
Now, after asking for God to do what He wants to do, we’re led to ask for our needs. It’s asking for what we need for this day. Not for the whole of 2021. Not catching up on all of 2020 that we missed out on! But just what is needed for this day. It’s trust in God’s provision each day, one day at a time.
Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors
We are constantly in progress, with more of our hearts being won by Christ’s love with every day we choose Him. We are imperfect in our pursuit, but His grace is ample to forgive our shortcomings. And when we remember how we have been loved and forgiven, the natural response to that is gratitude and the extension of that same love and forgiveness to others. Are there areas of our lives to be won for Christ? Are there ways we can respond to others with the love and gratitude of those who remember the grace they’ve received?
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
God doesn’t lead us into sin, but as part of the brokenness and sin of the world, those circumstances come, as do ones that test us, that refine us (2020 anyone?!). Jesus Himself was tempted and tried in His life on earth. The prayer here is one of trust in God, the one who is with us no matter what we face and who is stronger. It’s a petition for deliverance and help. He’s been that for us in every year that has passed and He will continue to be! The transition into 2021 isn’t a seamless one for all of us. Some are still walking through the same trials, just in a new year. His grace, strength, and power are with you.
We can see how this is more than a model for authentic prayer - though it certainly is that. It’s also a guide for life. It’s a guide for how to prioritize, and though there are so many things important to us, everything can find its place within this prayer
What are your areas of our concern?
Is it finances, job change or loss, provision? Trust in God, ask him to provide one day at a time?
Is it concern for the way the world seems to be falling apart at each news cycle, concern for the direction of our country and how it affects our daily lives? Trust in the sovereignty of God, ask for His kingdom to come and His will to be done.
Is it loneliness, fear, anxiety that surrounds and overwhelms not just mind and heart but also countless situations we walk through? We can ask our heavenly Father to be with us, to show His huge heart to us, His heart that is for us and with us.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if 2021 is like the year that passed, if it’s significantly better, or way harder. What matters is how we choose to live each day we’re given, how we treat those around us, and how we shine the light Christ has given us. May He be with you in this new year. May He reveal Himself you, guide your steps, provide for your needs, and bless you. He is good, and we are in His good hands!
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