Intentions or prayer

423 precepts or prayerAgain, a new year has begun. Many people have made good intentions for the new year. Often it is about personal health - especially after the many food and drink during the holidays. People all over the world are committed to doing more sports, eating less sweets and generally want to do a lot better. Although there is nothing wrong with taking such decisions, we Christians lack something in this approach.

These intentions all have something to do with our human willpower, so they often falter. In fact, experts have followed the success of New Year's resolutions. The results are not encouraging: 80% of them fail already before the second week of February! As believers, we are particularly aware of how fallible we humans are. We know the feeling the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 7,15: I do not know what I am doing. Because I do not do what I want; but what I hate, I do. One can hear Paul's frustration at his own lack of willpower, as he seems to know what God wants him to be.

Fortunately, as Christians we do not need our own determination. We can turn to something that is much more effective than the willingness to change ourselves: we can turn to prayer. Through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can confidently pray before God, our Father. We are able to bring our fears and anxieties, our joys and our deep concerns to Him. It is human to look to the future and to hope for the coming year. Instead of making good intentions that will soon fade, I encourage you to join me and commit to making 2018 the Year of Prayer.

Nothing is too insignificant to bring it to our loving Father. But unlike the intentions at the beginning of the year, prayer is not only important to us. We can also use prayer as an opportunity to bring other people's concerns before the Lord.

The privilege of praying for the New Year greatly encourages me. See, I can have my own goals and expectations for 2018. But I know, I'm pretty powerless to make it happen. But I know that we worship a loving and almighty God. In chapter eight of the Letter to the Romans, just a chapter after his lamentation over his own weak will, Paul encourages us: We know, however, that all things serve the good of those who love God, those who are called by his counsel (Romans 8,28). God is active in the world, and his almighty, loving will is focused on the welfare of his children, no matter what circumstances they live in.

Some of you may have had a very good year at 2017 and are quite optimistic about the future. For others it was a difficult year, full of struggles and setbacks. They fear that 2018 could bring more burdens on them. No matter what this New Year brings to us, God is present, ready to listen to our prayers and requests. We have a god of infinite love, and no concern we can bring before him is too insignificant. God is pleased with our requests, our gratitude and our concerns in close conversation with him.

In prayer and in gratitude,

Joseph Tkach


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