PRAYERS FOR THE NEW YEAR
When I was a kid, my family had a variety of New Year’s rituals and superstitions. I remember my mom cooking a large pot of black eye peas. She said that eating these on New Year’s Day would ensure good luck for the entire year. You know, I really never fancied black eyed peas, but I would eat my “girl scout” bite just to satisfy her. Most forms of legumes have been heretofore banished from my table, but this year I over came it and cooked a pot. I added some of my favorite smoked kielbasa and plenty of smoky flavored seasonings to make them go down easy and of course some rice.
One of my favorite ways to usher in the New Years is to light off a pack of fire crackers. Of course I live in a state where they are outlawed, but for the past 3 New Years, an anonymous neighbor sets off not only fire crackers, but this year Roman Candles!! So I celebrate vicariously through that neighbor.
In the past I would stay awake until 12:00 am and yell Happy New Year! out of my back door, and of course someone would inevitably holla back. I would also make a huge and unrealistic “resolution list”, of which all were broken before the end of January.
My grandma Elizabeth would always go to church on New Year’s Eve, regardless of what day it fell upon. My grandmother was a serial church goer; she had memberships in at least 3 churches located in various areas of our home town. She didn’t drive, so they were all available by bus and taxis, and sometimes a long walk. I know this because for most of my young life, I was her church partner. I am sure I attended a New Years service with her, but I probably slept through it. My grandmother called this service a “Watch Service”. In my grandmother’s church, this service was very spare and reverent. It involved some singing, scripture reading and heartfelt prayer by the congregation. It was very intense, and the blessing of the presence of the Holy Spirit was evident.
I know my grandmother tried to explain why she began the New Year in this way. She strongly believed in putting God first in her life and in everything that she did. In attending a “watch” service she felt that she was being a good servant by praying for the blessing of a new year and giving prayers of thanks for the past year. My grandmother felt that the prayers of a few believers would be strong enough testimony to make intercession for the many who didn’t pray.
Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak.
Why is this meeting is called a “Watch”? What are we watching and why is it so important? I don’t know if this tradition is still done, maybe in smaller more close knit congregations. So what is a watch? It is a word that denotes a “symbol” for time, which is a sign for us. A watch also signifies patience and enduring until the end; vigilance.
42 Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this; that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not, the son of man cometh.
So, my new New Year’s observance is to have a “watch” of my own. I wanted to pray for the blessings of 2013. Can you believe that we are in this time? When I was a kid, I found a birthday book that calculated your age by the year 2000. It seemed so far away back then, and of course we all thought that the year 2000 and beyond would be like living in a Star Trek episode, who knew we would surpass that television show by leaps and bounds? We aren’t living in space, yet. So I pondered over my heart’s desires for the year 2013.
First I am really thankful for everything that happened in my life this year, and for the lives of those known and unknown to me, and how my life was changed because of it.
I am thankful for the Truth. In 2012 it seemed more so than usual that the people of this world seemed literally hell bent on destruction, and ending the world as we know it. If it wasn’t the Mayan Prophecy, it was the Fiscal Cliff, and don’t get me started on the “Walking Dead”. The weather was scary too; there were extreme storm patterns, and super size “smart” storms that would affect every state in the union, except maybe two. What I was amazed at was how surviving these “new types of storms” became a mass teaching opportunity. Finally!! They were also opportunities to serve and to obey a most important commandment: Love One Another.
So two prayers of two different individuals come to mind. First is the prayer of Jabez in 1st Chronicles, and the second is the prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples, the one commonly referred to as the Lord’s prayer. When you look at the “language” of these two prayers, they are similar in many ways; the content is the same, the expectations are the same. I feel that there are many faithful persons, who pray for our country, and for every person in it. I believe that these prayers transcend religion, and ideologies and even politics. These are the prayers of the righteous, and I just know that these prayers in effect keep the world from spinning out of control during adversity.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10
9 Jabez was honorable above his brothers;
10 Jabez cried to the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me! And God granted his request.
I am always amazed at the circumstances of Jabez. His prayer is literally wedged in the middle of a long list of family names. Jabez is not his “proper” name but a “nickname”. It shows that the Lord knows our name and will honor that. He literally cried out to Heavenly Father; these were some strong and sincere prayers, and he probably prayed until he got an answer, which he did. I love that he prayed for God’s hand of guidance in his life so that he would always endeavor to be on the right side of God; but he is also requesting that if he starts to stray, he would be “reminded” to choose the right. He is asking to always have the Spirit of the Lord to be with him.
Alma 34:20-25; 27
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields; yea over all your flocks
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over your entire household, both morning, mid-day and evening
22 Yea cry unto him against the power of your enemies
23 Yea cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase
27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those around you.
Let your heart be fully drawn out, which is a reference to placing a bucket in a well and filling the bucket with as much water as you can pull or draw out. Let our hearts be “full” so that we can pray the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man.
The second prayer is often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer. I remember being taught this prayer by my Mother.
9 Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) is your name
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day, our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our trespasses, as we have forgiven those who have trespassed against us
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and power and the glory, forever Amen
I believe with my whole heart that this prayer is a prayer for our time, right now.
Have a good year everybody