Prayer for the New Year

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:11

January has traditionally been a time to set goals for the year to come, and to look back and see how we have done on goals from the previous year. Statistics indicate that only about one in five Americans achieve their New Year’s resolutions. On the lists of most common New Year’s resolutions, you will find many relating to self-improvement; very few have anything to do with helping others. You will also find tips on how to be successful in accomplishing your goals – like having the right mindset, setting attainable goals, or writing down a list of your goals. None of the articles I looked at mentioned prayer as a practical help for accomplishing a goal.

The young church in Thessalonica did not talk much of New Year’s resolutions. The church had been suffering persecution and trials and through it all had been persevering in their faith. For the apostle Paul, the trials were not a reason for despair; the perseverance of the believers was instead a reason for rejoicing. God was at work in them! Knowing that through God justice would ultimately prevail, Paul was more concerned that the believers continue in their perseverance.

It was Paul’s prayer for the church that caused me to think of our custom of New Year’s resolutions. That young church in those difficult days desired righteousness and was prompted by faith to good deeds. But just like today, the inspiration to do good was no guarantee that it would be accomplished – something more was needed. The apostle Paul did not advocate making the Thessalonians’ goals more attainable or creating a written list of good deeds. Instead Paul was in constant prayer for the church. Paul prayed that by God’s power, “he may bring to fruition… every desire for goodness and… every deed prompted by faith.” Good deeds prompted by faith come continually throughout the year and around the world. We would do well to resolve to pray constantly for one another, in the same way that Paul did for his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica.

At the end of November we did not provide full allowances to all of our missionaries. After designated support funds were used up, we needed an additional $67,940 to meet full allowances. We used the entire general fund balance of $39,290 and an additional $8,055 from estate funds to bring minimum allowance payments to 65 percent of the target amount. Of our 49 missionary units, 13 received full allowance and 36 received the minimum amount. Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support.

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