In the mid-1700s, John Wesley instituted watchnight services as part of New Year’s eve. The worship services gave early Methodists an opportunity to reflect on the past year and to prepare for the year ahead by worshiping and praying together. Early-day Salvationists kept with the tradition of greeting each new year on their knees. Many Salvation Army corps still follow the tradition of a watchnight service on New Year’s eve. Some will come together for a fellowship time, a meal, a time of testimonies and hopes for the new year, maybe even a midnight prayer time.
You may or may not be attending a formal watchnight service tonight, but you can still take some time to reflect on the past year by first asking yourself some “review” questions, such as:
- What has God done in my life in 2019?
- Where have I grown as a follower of Jesus this year?
- What do I regret not doing?
- Do I need to repent of anything?
- What might God be preparing me for in the new year?
You might have your own questions, of course, but it’s worth taking some time to think about the past year. Even taking the time to write a simple list of the ways God has blessed you in 2019 is a profitable exercise.
Then, of course, take some time to think about the coming year. Maybe some questions like these will help:
- What am I looking forward to in 2020?
- What do I fear about the year ahead?
- Are there any areas of my life that I need to commit or re-commit to God?
- Is there a spiritual practice that I want to start this year?
Whatever your questions are, make them your subjects for prayer as you begin a new year of following Jesus. It might even be helpful to write out a prayer of commitment that you can refer back to as the year goes on. Here is a sample covenant from The Salvation Army ceremonies book that you might want to use as a model:
To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfil,
O may it all my powers engage,
To do my Master’s will!
In accordance with my commitment to Jesus Christ,
and because of my concern for the people around
me, I present myself – with all the faculties of mind
and body – to God as a living offering.
I renew the pledge of my time, abilities, means and
influence, to the service of Jesus Christ both in my
corps and in my community.
I resolve to maintain my Christian integrity in every
area of human relationships, and in particular, will
uphold the sanctity of marriage and be committed to
the enrichment of family life.
For these reasons, I now renew my covenant with
God and ask the Holy Spirit to give me strength to
carry out these promises faithfully. Amen.
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