Around this time of year, Christians like us see countless suggestions (or more cynically, sales pitches) for Bible reading plans. Reading God’s Word from cover to cover is a common New Year’s resolution, right up there with the usual goals of losing weight, saving money, and being better about flossing (which is my resolution this year). However, I’m going to buck the usual trend and suggest a different New Year’s resolution for your consideration.
Now don’t get me wrong; reading more Scripture more consistently is absolutely something we believers should strive for in the year 2024. But I can’t help but wonder why prayer isn’t a more popular resolution among Christians and churches. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like each January, FAR more believers resolve to increase their Bible intake than their prayer output. Perhaps we’d be wise to put more emphasis on prayer.
In light of this apparent discrepancy, here are a few resources that could be helpful if you take my challenge to pray more in the year 2024:
First: the Lord’s Prayer. Yes, seriously; the Lord’s Prayer! Many Christians fail to pray because we say we aren’t sure how to do it or what to say. But in Luke 11:2-4, Jesus gives his disciples as clear a blueprint for prayer as we could possibly seek. He teaches us about God’s character, how to address him, and the posture in which we approach God. He gives us examples of specific requests – large scale and small scale, spiritual and material, private and public – to make of God. If prayer has been a struggle for you, let the Lord’s Prayer guide you. Start by simply reading, repeating, and praying the words on the page. I’d be willing to bet that with time, you’ll find yourself inspired to pray in more detail and at more length.
Second: a book called “Praying the Bible” by Donald Whitney. Two of PVCC’s Small Groups have recently used this book, and we have copies at the church building you’d be more than welcome to take at no cost. This book is short, straightforward, and practical. It outlines the basic rationale for prayer, and provides simple instructions for the practice of prayer itself. And of course, it teaches us how Scripture (that other popular resolution noted above) can and should shape our prayer lives.
Third: the in-progress PVCC Prayer Room. As mentioned at the Congregational Meeting last month, we’re currently renovating the old, mostly unused classroom next to the Youth Room into a more usable and welcoming space. We’re already painting walls, and will soon be assembling new furniture and decorating. One of the primary uses of this room will be prayer; specifically, we’re picturing a pair of people each week praying in that room for the duration of the Sunday morning service. They’ll be praying for each other, the service, the church as a whole, and whatever other things have recently come up in our community and world. If nothing else, being a part of this Prayer Team would give you a designated time and place to pray on a regular basis, and give you the opportunity to pray with another person who may be more experienced at it than you are.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. Open up your Bible and read the Lord’s Prayer, and talk to me if you’d like a copy of the book mentioned above, or you’re interested in learning more about PVCC’s Prayer Room.
Again: reading God’s Word in 2024 is a perfectly reasonable and God-honoring New Year’s resolution for believers in Jesus. We need to hear more from the Lord, and make full use of the inspired revelation of himself he has so graciously given us! But allow me to also (gently) suggest that prayer should be just as common of a New Year’s resolution. After all, in his grace, kindness, and mercy, God might want to hear from us too.