Start with Prayer

Let’s begin correctly.

The church of my youth gathered each New Year’s Eve to usher in the New Year with prayer. It was the acknowledgement that the enormity of the challenges ahead could only be faced with divine help. It was the idea of focusing individually and corporately on surrendering our agendas to the Lord. It was an act of worship as we looked to the Sovereign God to lead and protect us.

As Canadian Presbyterians enter 2015, we are faced with challenges that may seem insurmountable. For many of our congregations, there is much angst around finances and sustainability. For some of our clergy and congregational leaders there are questions of carrying on despite burnout and discouragement.

As a denomination, we appear destined to enter into a time of debate over LGBT issues that has the potential to bring much rancour and division to our congregations and presbyteries and even the floor of the General Assembly.

There are many questions surfacing. “What can we do?” and “What should we do?”

I assure you that this is not a time for easy answers. In fact, I have a growing concern for those who dismiss issues with quick, short statements that they believe conclusively eliminate all argument.

What does prayer accomplish? It keeps us in conversation with the One who actually knows how it all works out. It connects us to unlimited power and resources. In humility, we can ask for the Holy Spirit to change us where we need changing, which, I suspect, is at the heart of all renewal. It allows the love of God to be released in us, which is greater and truer than all our love.

So, at the beginning of this New Year, rather than postulating what I believe are the answers, let’s begin correctly. Let’s start with prayer. Our ability as individuals, congregations, presbyteries, and a denomination to navigate the uncertain future we face relies completely on our ability to journey in God’s power, under His guidance and submitted to His will. We are part of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church is the Triune God’s idea. It is His gift of hope to the world. And don’t forget to pray, as Jesus did, for the unity of His Church.

Start your day with prayer. Start your meetings with prayer. Start every new endeavour with prayer.

And most certainly start each New Year with prayer.

Published in The Presbyterian Record on January 1, 2015.

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