Welcome to today's devotional thoughts on New Year with New Hope! (See our introduction and other devotionals in this series.) Today's message will help prepare you for our one hour of simultaneous prayer for the world as we enter 2021. It will also give you some starter Scriptures to use in your preparation and prayer time as we join together with other followers of Jesus from around the world. Each day will follow the same format:
- Word — Scriptures to get us thinking.
- Insight — Stories and observations to open our hearts.
- Focus — Main point of our prayer time.
- Pursuit — Putting our prayer focus into practice.
- Resources — Scriptures that help in our pursuit.
Word — Scriptures to get us thinking.
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT).
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart (Colossians 4:2 NLT).
Insight — Stories and observations to open our hearts.
I married a precious young woman I met in college named Donna. She had grown up in southern Ohio and loved the change in seasons, especially the change from summer to autumn. So, after two years in Texas, she informed me:
She was absolutely correct!
So, I kinda retired, and we did move to the hills of north-central Arkansas. Our autumn was breathtaking ALL of October. I now get to enjoy all four seasons. Better yet, I get to enjoy them with Donna! I'm also thankful that she has partnered with me in marriage and ministry for all the seasons of our lives. Through every season, for over forty-three years, she has shared her life with me. And now, we get to enjoy real autumns together!
Both her faithfulness and my discovery of God's glorious hues painted freshly each autumn are breathtaking!
Focus — Main point of our prayer time.
When I think about prayer, I am reminded that God is faithful to us through all the seasons of our lives. He isn't a fair-weather God. He is an all-season Father. He is with us when life feels alive and full of color. He loves us when our lives feel drab and gray. He loves when life looms dark and foreboding. Our God is an all-season Father!
The Almighty, the Creator, our Abba Father, has known us, loved us, and been with us every moment from our conception through every up and down of life, and is still with us until now (Psalm 139). As his children by grace through faith, our Father has promised that nothing can separate us from his love for us in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:32-39). He will never leave us or forsake us, no matter how we may feel or what we deserve at any given moment, or what others around us do to us (Hebrews 13:5-6). He doesn't care if we are young or old, tired or energetic, male or female, rich or poor, light or dark-skinned, upper class, or homeless (Galatians 3:26-29).
Our God is the all-season and ever-listening Father. He is waiting for us to call out to him as our Abba Father (Romans 8:15-17). Because we are his children and filled with his Spirit, he listens to the groanings of our emotions too deep for words and hears them with love because of the intercession of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27).
That means our Father in heaven has given us the incredible gift of being able to pray in all seasons of life! Real... heart-level... in the trenches of despair and on the mountain tops of joy kinds of praying. And I hope just thinking about this kind of all-season prayer reality gives you as much breathtaking joy as experience my first real autumn in sixty-five years of living gave me! There is no place or time or situation that God is not available to hear your words and feel your heart's emotions in prayer.
After a year like 2020, and now dedicating ourselves to prayer for this New Year with New Hope, this is good news! The Father wants us to know he is listening, standing on tiptoe to hear from our hearts as we enter into this New Year in the shattered mess of our previous one. We have been given the gift of all-season prayer because we have a loving Father who is the all-season, grace-giving, always-listening God who loves us.
Pursuit — Putting our prayer focus into practice.
One way to help us feel and remember our all-season and ever-listening Father is to pray to very familiar Bible prayers. Because they are so familiar, we run the risk of saying them too quickly and not experiencing what we are saying. So, take your time with each of these familiar prayers. Say them slowly and realize what you are saying. Dwell in them a bit. Use the translations below and then use the translation you remember memorizing or hearing:
The LORD Is My Shepherd
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever (Psalm 23:1-6 ESV).
The Lord's Prayer
[Jesus said:] "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.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen" (Matthew 6:9-13 ESV).
Remember Jesus' words of instruction before he taught us this prayer. They are a reminder that we are praying to our loving Father and are not heard because our words are many or because our words are excellent, but because our Father is good and loving:
"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:7-8 ESV).
Resources — Scriptures that help in our pursuit.
These are prayers from the Bible to help us see the God of all seasons!
Boldness in the face of persecution and attach — Acts 4:23-31.
Prayer of praise and for God's Spirit and power — Ephesians 3:14-21.
Praise for who God is and his plan of redemption to save us — Romans 11:33-36.
Confession of sin — Psalm 51:1-17.
Praise for God's creation and prayer for a clean heart — Psalm 19:1-14.
May the LORD bless us in our efforts to pray for our New Year with New Hope!
Hozana has joined with the prayer effort for a New Year with New Hope and will have resources to help track and provide our content to other readers.
Sign up and watch our group grow as people world-wide join our prayer efforts. We appreciate all who are willing to pray for the three areas of emphasis for our world in 2021: