Happy New Year everyone! I hope y’all had a great holiday!!
It is officially new year resolution season which means gyms are overflowing with memberships, savings accounts are being created left and right, and those people you blocked on Instagram are finally finding themselves unblocked.
We are a society consumed with new year resolutions. Half of the population says they love them while the other half claims to hate them. Yet, I do not think I am completely incorrect if I state most people, whether they want to admit it or not, have some form of a resolution for the new year.
There is something about the new year that brings us hope because we see the new year as a new beginning. Any number of articles you read after the new year will say THIS is how you leave that (insert negative event that impacted your life here) behind. THIS is how you will get over it. THIS is how you will move on. But as I go through and read these articles, blogs, etc. about how to be better people in the new year and leave that negativity behind, I cannot help but notice there is one blaring thing missing in all of these ways we are to improve ourselves and our situations – prayer.
Prayer is an incredible thing. Prayer is direct communication between us and our heavenly Father. Prayer changes situations and changes lives. So, in this year of new things and new beginnings, in this year of wanting to leave the old, the negative, and the pain behind, why are we to completely neglect our number one battle tool?
Over the holiday’s I began reading the book Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough. A he said, she said memoir written by a pastor and his wife of the time they settled into an ordinary marriage which almost resulted in the end of their marriage, their ministry, and their family. Without giving away too much detail, he had an affair, their relationship almost ended, but today they are still together and striving to do God’s work while honoring him every step of the way.
However, the book does not focus primarily on the affair. In fact, majority of the book is the back-story of their marriage and the ways in which they settled into an ordinary relationship as opposed to an extraordinary one.
So what does all of this have to do with prayer? In the chapter “No Ordinary Battle,” the couple describes how they believed to have good intentions for each other, but end up on different sides of a situation. Basically, viewing the other as the enemy. They were no longer doing life together but instead complaining about how the other needed to change.
In the process of trying to control and protect each other at the same time, they began questioning God’s provision. (And I’m pretty sure we have all been here at some point in time, whether connected to a relationship or a completely different situation, right?) They describe how when we begin to question God’s provision, we are also questioning His goodness, His plan, and yes, even His word. The couple poses the question that begins our downfall is when we think “Did God really say…?”
While this story pertains to relationships, mainly marriage, I feel there are important lessons that apply to life in general. In order to overcome these questions, doubts, and downfalls, the couple states each person in a relationship should individually pursue God and not the other person. But wait, isn’t this how we can overcome the questions, doubts, and downfalls we are trying to leave in 2015 as well? To individually pursue God and not said egregious situation? YES.
Pursuing God may (probably) varies from person to person. But here’s what happens when we pursue God: we begin to think about God. He consumes our thoughts, we want to spend time in His word, and we pray. We realize there are no specific times and places where we need to pray, we just do it. By pursuing God, we have allowed God to change us.
Let me repeat that – God will change US and we should ask him to change us! Not the other person in our relationship or that negative situation in our life, but us.
Throughout the entire book (which I am still reading), the couple adamantly states how we have to fight for extraordinary. Bad situations don’t just go away and they don’t just change. We have to fight to change them.
So what does fighting look like? Fighting looks like prayer. We pray for the situation, person, whatever in our lives that we struggle with. We pray for any needs of the situations and feelings involved in them.
Concerning fighting for the relationship as the couple had (I’m adding this because I’m simply love it), we pray with them. Scary, I know. I’m not sure where our fear to pray in front of others stems from, and I’m not diminishing the fear one bit because I understand it, but it’s also silly. I understand how scary it is to ask someone to pray with you. I also know how it feels to be rejected and have someone you care about say “Let me think about it.” It’s discouraging to the point that you never want to bring up the topic again. But we have to overcome that fear because I promise the person loves you and is not judging you. Even more, something amazing happens in prayer. The couple tells their audience that while you pray with each other, you hear articulated what is most precious to them, you understand them more, and you are drawn closer together.
Prayer is what changes things, not some self-help blog entitled “9 ways I’m moving on without you this year” or “The little ways in which you can find happiness in the new year.” Prayer is often over-looked when we try to change and face new beginnings during the new year, yet it is our greatest weapon.
I agree, saving money and getting in better shape are admiral goals. They are goals I would love to achieve as well. I mean, I hope to run a marathon one day and I won’t be able to do that if I don’t push myself on my runs. But when it comes to those emotional, mental, and spiritual new years resolutions, they are a battle. However, they are not battles we have to fight on our own. I think we could all be surprised to see how much our lives change when we pray more about anything and everything.
So there y’all go – my number one resolution is to really throw myself into prayer. I hope y’all take a note from Justin & Trisha as well and pray about relationships and other situations in your life throughout the new year.