Prepared and Prayerful: Getting Ready for 2019
We’re drawing to the end of the in-betweeny days that bridge Christmas and New Year: where we lose track of the days, our sleep patterns get totally out of sync and we’re starting to think about what the New Year holds…
Some of us might be trying to make this time last as long as possible and trying not to think about heading back to school, uni or work. But some of us might be getting into planning mode: what are my New Year Resolutions? What are my goals, aspirations, plans and prayers? What do I want 2019 to look like?
Whatever our approach at the moment, it’s hard to escape the pressure of a ‘New Year’ and a ‘new start’ – but we can be confident that the only preparation that counts is our heart preparation: spending time in prayer, building our relationship with God.
Only God knows what our year will look like – and the Bible never guarantees that we’ll have a smooth ride as Christians. It might be difficult and challenging, or it might be all we had hoped for and more – but what we can hold onto is that God hears our prayers and works everything for our good.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be using the book of Nehemiah as our encouragement for the start of 2019. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king, and his life is a blueprint for what it looks like to begin the year ready to face both turbulence AND success as a servant of the Lord.
Simply put, Nehemiah’s life is a real model of what it looks like to work hard, to have integrity, and to use his talents for the glory of God. He faced major troubles and dramas (as we are likely to next year!) but he overcame these by staying rooted in relationship with God.
As we spend today, the last day of 2018, preparing our hearts for what’s to come – I think we can take real inspiration from the prayer life of Nehemiah.
At the beginning of Nehemiah Chapter 1, he hears the news that his beloved hometown Jerusalem had been attacked and the walls burned down. In the face of trauma and disappointment, Nehemiah remains consistently prayerful – and these are the foundations upon which his future courage and successes are built upon.
So how does he pray?
1. Nehemiah isn’t afraid to bring his emotions to God - he comes just as he is.
(V1): When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
2. He praises God – even in the middle of his tears:
(V5-6a): Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.
3. He confesses his sins, and the sins of his nation.
(V6b-7) I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
4. He remembers the promises of God and clings onto them.
(V8-9) “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
5. Nehemiah prays boldly! He petitions God, asking for success and favour.
(V10-11): “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man.”
Whatever your 2018 has held, and whatever you are praying and hoping for in 2019 – be encouraged by the testimony of Nehemiah and his boldness in praying BIG, praying for change, praying with hope and praying for success.
But also be encouraged that whatever your situation, even if you feel completely at the end of yourself - we can approach the throne of God, be confident that He has washed our sins away and sees us as blameless, and stand on His promises.
The years might come and go and our circumstances change, but He remains faithful.
Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 whilst studying at Durham University, and has had the humbling experience of overseeing its growth ever since. She is passionate about investing into girls and young women, and believes in raising up a generation who will live courageously and fearlessly for the Lord. She is married to James, lives and works in London and attends Holy Trinity Clapham.