We’re almost upon the New Year! Just several days left of 2011 and then we start over again. And we all know that with January 1st, we tend to make promises and resolutions about doing things differently in the new year. Maybe it’s a commitment to exercise. After all, there are more fitness center memberships sold in January than in any other month of the year. Or perhaps you are thinking about losing weight or quitting smoking. Notice how many commercials are already on TV for products to help us kick the habit?
Maybe you are thinking about returning to school to continue your education or even taking up a new hobby. Or you are setting a goal to be recognized for your business acumen. Whatever it is, I hope that you are successful in your desire for a more fulfilling life in 2012.
But tonight, I thought it may be helpful to give you another alternative about how to go about ensuring success in your life next year. Oh, maybe not in human terms, but certainly in the eyes of the Lord. Because I have the perfect way for you to approach your goals for next year – prayer. That’s right; pray about it, ahead of time, before the start of the year. And rather than just shoot up some random ideas, I thought it may be helpful to look at a particular model of prayer that was used by King David, a man after God’s own heart.
Psalm 139 is the place I go when I need to reflect on substantive change in my own life. It’s one of the songs that David wrote to God when he was in trouble. For starters, David reflects on how God knows everything about him. In verses 2-3, we read, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” In other words, God is omniscient – He knows everything about David.
David continues in verses 8-10, “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Here, David discovers God’s omnipresence – the fact that God is always with David. And you can sense the awe that David has about his Father.
And then, an even greater acknowledgment. Because David remarks in 13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” So David knows that God actually created him. Who else could do that? Only God, the one who is all powerful – or omnipotent, which is the theological word. He continues in verse 16, “your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Confirmation of the power of God.
So far, therefore, we know that God was always with David, He knew David better than anyone else and He even created David. Quite a strong combination of facts, don’t you think? So it follows that God was more familiar with David than anybody else – period. You may even say that there was nothing that God didn’t know about David. So when David was about to enter into a new phase of his life, where did he go? To God, of course!
The beauty of the psalm comes in the final several verses when David completely opens himself to God. In verses 23-24, David prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Wow! David invites God into his heart to fix anything that may need to be addressed before the next steps in David’s life. Because David wants to enter the next season of his life fully in the will of God; and desiring to be free from any offense or anxiety. I want that for my life, too. Don’t you?
So, as the end of 2011 approaches, there is still plenty of time to appeal to God to help you be successful, however you define that, in 2012. Because it makes perfect sense that the God of the universe is always with you, knows you and created you. That means that He knows your strengths and your flaws; and that makes him the perfect one to go to. In fact, that is my encouragement this evening – that you will petition God to help you make your New Year’s resolutions. And my prayer is that He will give you the strength and the ideas to help you be successful next year. After all, the plan worked for David and it can work for you, and me, as well. Just have faith – you won’t be disappointed. Grace and peace,