New Year’s resolutions are beneficial tools. But for the past few years, I’ve noticed all mine beginning to look the same.
Get my driver’s license
Learn a new instrument
Exercise more regularly
Read through the Bible
This is partly because I’m not creative to come up with fresh ideas, and partly because I write down a resolution, forget it by mid-January, and then have to add it back to my list for next year. (I’m not alone, right?)
I don’t know about you, but resolutions can often become my idols or my discouragements. When December rolls around and I look back on everything I’ve done, I can puff up. Or in contrast, when the year ends, and I realize I never held that eagle on my arm or ran that marathon, I can fall into despair.
That’s an exaggeration, but it does hold some truth. Resolutions sometimes just don’t do the job. I strive but can’t seem to achieve them on my own.
So, as 2018 approaches, I’ve decided to try something new. Instead of writing New Year’s resolutions, I’ve written down three simple personal prayers for the upcoming year… three prayers that encapsulate everything I was trying to accomplish in creating resolutions, but with One Thing often flagrantly missing:
Prayer #1: Make Me More Like Jesus
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Rom. 8:29)
The sanctification process is not comfortable. Every day, every year, I am being chiseled on. People and circumstances are maneuvered skillfully by God to equip, challenge, humble, and prepare me.
Every day I am being prepared to meet Jesus by learning to become more like Jesus.
But I fail.
This deficit can clearly be seen just by looking over my resolutions from the past several years. I really was trying. I wanted (and still do) to be a better sibling, daughter, and friend. But it was (and is) difficult. I failed.
This is why I am turning my ambition to a prayer.
Jesus, make me more like You in 2018.
I will not begin to see the godly change I desire this year until I ask and allow myself to be molded every single day into the image of God the Son.
Prayer #2: Give Me an Insatiable Desire for Your Word
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… (Col. 3:16a)
By God’s grace, I have seen a huge step forward in my desire to read and dig into His Word this past year. I am so grateful for this passion, and the opportunity to blog about it!
However, I don’t want to get comfortable with the status quo. I want a desire for God’s Word that is insatiable. An unquenchable, hungry, greedy desire.
I remember an illustration my Dad used in a Wednesday night prayer meeting last November. He had several members of the group read assigned Scripture passages from torn out pages of the Bible. The theme of that meeting was to pray for the persecuted church by trying to experience at least a portion of their situation. Dad explained that these pages were often all that people had of the Bible. Therefore, they became precious jewels. Persecuted Christians would study a single page for months at a time.
What would it be like to have such a passion for the Word this year that I treated every single page as a rich jewel worth mining?
A zealous desire for the pages of Scripture is my second personal prayer for 2018.
Prayer #3: Lead Me To Do Hard Things
This is where my practical New Year’s resolutions find their place. The only possible result of seeking fervently after Christ and His Word is to go and act. Resolutions like “I want to make a new friend” or “I want to learn to paint” can become powerful tools for the kingdom of God.
But this prayer goes beyond a simple goal. I want God to lead me toward opportunities where I can meet, not only these goals, but greater ones.
Why stop at one friend? Why not reach out to all the acquaintances in my life? Why just learn to use a paintbrush? Why not learn oils and watercolors and acrylics too?
I will be the first to tell you that this mindset of going beyond is hard, and that I am in no way an example.
But that’s why I’ve made it a prayer. Only God can implant within me the desire to work hard and to step outside of my cozy circle. I don’t just want to do things this year, I want to do hard things that bring God more glory.[i]
Stepping Into 2018
I think it’s more than important to walk into the new year with goals. Whether you choose to scratch down resolutions or to verse a few prayers, it is my hope that we both will view 2018 as a launch pad for amazing things God has in store.
[i] For an exceptional resource on this topic, check out Alex and Brett Harris’ book Do Hard Things. You can find it on Amazon here.