Did you enjoy the holidays? Did you see friends and family members you rarely see? Was it exciting to hear all about what they are doing and share with them what is going on in your life? Were there so many things to talk about and so much to catch up on that you could hardly wait for your time with them to begin? Do you feel your time together ended all too quickly?
How about our time with God? Do we feel the same excitement? Do we come to Him expectantly, joyfully, believing we will hear God speak to us through His written word? Do we have an “I-just-can’t-wait-to-tell-Him” eagerness? Or, is our time with God routine, programmed, and just something to check off our “to-do” list? Are we sometimes shocked when we lay our heads on our pillows at night and suddenly realize we did not spend any time at all in God’s Word or in prayer that entire day? And then, so the day isn’t a total loss, do we quickly send up our token prayers to God and give Him the leftovers of our day?
Well, guess what? We do not have to continue the same old ways or repeat the same old failures. We have now moved into the year 2018, and we can do better. It is so comforting to know that one of the many wonderful things about God is when we confess our sin, He forgives, cleanses and restores us. We can start over. We can leave our past failures with Him. We can make a brand new start! We can ask God through the power of the Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus.
One of the things many of us want to improve in 2018 is our prayer life. In today’s world, there are so many things to pray about that sometimes we become overwhelmed and discouraged. How can we pray for all of these things? Paul writes in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” God wants us to come to Him and talk with Him about every detail of our lives.
Just recently, I read the following prayer that English minister and author John Stott prayed each morning:
Good morning heavenly Father,
good morning Lord Jesus,
good morning Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe.
Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world.
Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me.
While I am not suggesting a memorized or recited prayer, there are so many good things in Stott’s prayer that could be incorporated into our own prayer time with God.
Here are some suggestions for prayer in 2018:
- Pray for God to enable you to love Him with all your heart, mind and soul.
- Pray against distractions that interfere with your time with God.
- Pray for God to give you a thankful heart.
- Pray for your families to remain close to God.
- Pray for all believers to remain strong and be Christ-like examples to those around them.
- Pray for pastors, staff members, and their families.
- Pray for missionaries both home and abroad.
- Pray for the unsaved and for God’s guidance and boldness to share the Gospel with them.
- Pray for our country to return to God—for revival in our country and throughout the world.
- Pray for our leaders to make wise, godly decisions.
- Pray for first responders.
- Pray for the homeless.
Remember—God is always available. He is never too busy. He is never too tired. He always listens, and He wants His children to spend time with Him. Let’s do better. Let’s spend a lot of time with God in 2018!