Prayer for the New Year

Almighty Father, we pray Thee graciously to lead us through the uncertainties of this new year of our earthly pilgrimage. Protect us from the dangers of the way; prepare us for the duties, the trials, the joys, and sorrows that await us; and grant that each change the year brings with it may bring us nearer to Thyself, and to the eternal joy and rest that await the faithful in Thy blessed and glorious presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

—Church of Scotland, 1952

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Music in Its Place

As much as I love music . . . we have placed far too much faith in it and not nearly enough in the power of the Word, the authority and sweep of fearless prophecy and earnest, yet hope-filled, intercessory prayer. I have often wondered what would happen if we got music out of the way, especially in its upfront dress, and spent abundant time in interceding prayer, reading and searching the Scriptures, sitting in silence, prophesying and perhaps only then singing and making music.

—Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts, 140

In Jesus’ Name

“Pray in the name of Jesus,” I think means “on the basis of what Jesus has done to make our access to God possible,” namely His blood and righteousness. So when I say, “In Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer, I mean “because Jesus died for me and rose again, covered my sins, and imparted and imputed righteousness to me, I have access to the Father.” “Because of Him”—that’s what “In Jesus’ name” means.

—John Piper, http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-it-matter-which-person-of-the-trinity-we-pray-to?hc_location=ufi

Praying beyond Our Walls

A visitor can tell a lot about a congregation from the prayers spoken in worship. Maybe you have experienced services in which congregations appear to be completely self-centered. They prayed for needs within which congregations appear to be completely self-centered. They prayed for needs within their own congregation, but said hardly a word about anything or anyone outside themselves—unless, perhaps, there had been a hurricane or some other sort of disaster in the news. Of course it is a beautiful and important part of our priestly function as a community to pray for the needs of the congregation—this is one way we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. But we have to reach beyond our congregational families too.

Bringing the needs of the world before God in the worshiping assembly demonstrates to members and visitors that a given congregation is more than just a nice social club.

—Ron and Debra Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 205-206

Obstacles to Adoration

C. S. Lewis identifies several things that keep us from adoration.

The first is inattention. How easy it is to be caught up into the whirl of life and miss the overtures of Divine Love.

A second obstacle is the wrong kind of attention. We see a sunset and are drawn into analysis rather than doxology.

A third obstacle to adoration is greed. Instead of simply enjoying pleasures, we demand more pleasures.

Lewis mentions one more obstruction: conceit. When conceit takes over, the focus is once again on how wonderful we are—which is why it so effectively severs the cords of adoration.

—Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, 85-87