Happy New Year! I pray that your New Year is already off to a good start! In seeking ideas for a fresh New Year’s message, I googled the history of New Year’s. Among the articles I found, one from Psychology Today, caught my eye. Author, David Ropeik posited that the motivation to celebrate the New Year is rooted in our desire to survive and that making New year’s resolutions is a way to exert control over an uncertain future. I’ll agree with half of that.
We all know how challenging it is to keep our New Year’s resolutions. In a 2007 British study of 3000 people who made New Year’s resolutions, 88% failed to keep their resolutions for the year. That was not surprising but comforting. What was really interesting though was that among the resolutions made by these subjects, the resolution to pray more, was among them.
Ropeik claims that psychologically, people find more ‘control’ over the fear of death by “affiliating with religions that promise happy endings. Pray more and death is less scary”. Granted this article is in Psychology Today, not Christianity Today but it got me thinking. ‘Praying more’ is a terrific resolution to make ANY time of year but it still seemed a little vague. So, I’m challenging all of us to create a new daily habit of: praying each day, for 5 minutes a day, for the next 30 days. 5 minutes may seem like a small amount of time but if you were with us in worship during Advent, you know how long even a minute of silence can be, but how fruitful it was!
One Sunday after ‘pondering the meaning of Advent’ as part of our Time for Youth and Children, one of our Sunday School teachers asked his students “What did you learn during today’s Time for Youth and Children?” Their responses? “I can tell them the story of Jesus.”, “Know that God hears your stress and anxiety.”, “To focus on Jesus and God.”, “I should ponder about my choices.”, “Always believe that God is around.”, “I should ponder about what God does for me every day of my life.”, “We don’t need to gift each other but love each other”.
Saints!!!, if our kids are getting this from a brief story retold and a minute to ponder about God’s activity, just imagine how our lives can be impacted with an intentional 5 minutes each day in prayer?
Maybe we’ll feel more in control. Maybe we’ll have less fear of death. Maybe we’ll even shift from ‘surviving’ to thriving. But since our future is already certain because of what God did for us in Jesus Christ, maybe we can start to enjoy the present with God, for even 5 minutes a day. That’s why the present is called a gift.
Praying for 5 minutes a day with you,