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So. Most of us have probably digested our holiday meals, consumed the last of the Christmas cakes, pies, and cookies, returned home from our visits to family and friends, or returned to our at-home routines after visits from them. We have rung in the New Year, packed away the trees, decorations, lights, and gifts; and here we are in 2014! Now what?
There was a time when New Year’s resolutions were popular. But nowadays, I hear more people declaring that they do not make resolutions than I hear talking about making them. Honestly, I never had much success at sticking to them. By the end of January, in most cases, I had given up on them. So I am among those who did not make any New Year’s resolutions this year, except one - the same one I’ve made every year for as long as I can remember.
I have resolved to increase the time I spend in prayer. Note how broad that phrasing is. My “standing” resolution is to increase my prayer time. Just that. Not, “I’m going to wake up every morning at 7 o’clock and pray for thirty minutes.” Anyone who knows me well knows I am a natural night owl, who sometimes does not go to sleep until 5:00 a.m. So the chances of me waking at 7 absent an unbreakable appointment or black smoke filling up my bedroom are very slim. That resolution would be a set-up for failure. So I don’t make that one. I frame my resolution as broadly as possible, to give myself as much flexibility as possible, thus increasing my chance of success.
And here’s the thing - it turns out that the success that I have increasing my prayer time leads to success in accomplishing many of the other things which would have been the subject of failed resolutions. That’s because prayer centers me, grounds me and helps me get “unstuck.” I wish I could explain precisely how it works, but I can’t, other than to say that I pray, God hears, and God responds. I often experience God’s response as a “shift” within myself. I can pray about something that is disturbing me greatly, and by the time I’m done, I am calmer; more peaceful. I feel certain of having been heard - which sometimes is all I really need - and if I do need something more, I feel equally certain that, one way or another, it will work out. Prayer reminds me that everything always does. And that empowers me, and energizes me. It gives me hope that my efforts to do good things for myself and others will not be in vain. And, as a result, I do more.
So if you’ve given up on New Year’s resolutions, but still want to make the most of this year with some life-improving changes and innovations, try making just one resolution - to spend more time in prayer. You might be amazed at the impact that keeping that one will have on all aspects of your life.