I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions. However, as I have thought about the ending of 2021 and the dawning of 2022, a commitment and a prayer emerged. I am sharing it with you in the hope that it resonates with you – and that you will join with me in this commitment and prayer.
Lord, in Your mercy and grace, please make 2022 the most fruitful year of my life, and the most fruitful year for my church. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Here are six points of reflection:
First – Lord, help me to more deeply abide in You.
It is good to meditate upon John 15:1-17. Listen to some of what Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” And, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (Verses 5 and 8. Please note that all verses in this blog are from the NIV).
Desiring a fruitful year does not necessarily mean you cannot also make resolutions about learning a language or losing weight or getting out of debt. But I encourage you to long for 2022 to be the most fruitful year of your life.
Second – Lord, help me to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.
I invite you to meditate upon Galatians 5:22-23a. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” You can see by reading around this text (16-26) that as is typical of the Bible, there is something for you to reject (the acts of your sinful human nature) and something to pursue (the fruit of the Spirit). You pursue this fruit by “living by the Holy Spirit and keeping in step with Him.”
I sometimes tell people to imagine overhearing what people say about you at your funeral reception. Don’t you think it would be wonderful if people said things like, “You know, Smith was almost too gentle and patient.” It is your flesh that makes you worry about “going too far” in Christ-likeness. The Lord wants you to be fruitful.
Third – Lord, help me to be good soil so Your word will produce much fruit.
It is good to meditate upon the “Parable of the Sower.” (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15). The “word” is both the Bible and the Gospel. It is this word from God that has power and produces fruit. One of the points of the texts is to encourage you to call out to the Lord that He will make you that good soil that receives His word and responds in a worthy manner.
Fourth – Lord, please make my church fruitful.
The Lord invented the idea of the local church. He did not intend for you to walk with Him alone. His desire is that you walk with Him in the company of others. In John 15, Jesus uses the plural. He wants you to abide in Him. He also wants “youse” to abide in Him. “Youse” is a made up word to emphasize the plural sense of “you.”
Many of us are too individualistic in our prayers. The local church seems like an accessory. But being a part of a local church is not an accessory, it is a necessity. I need to abide in Jesus. And I need to abide in Him with others seeking to abide in Him. Fruitfulness only makes sense if you see it as both an individual and a congregational pursuit.
Fifth – Lord, please make this the most fruitful year of my life, and the most fruitful year of my church.
There is a wonderful phrase in a prayer that emerges from the English Reformation. It is prayed after you have received Communion. The congregation prays together, offering up to the Lord “our selves, our souls, and our bodies.” Then the congregation asks the Lord to accept this offering up of ourselves to Him, “not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offenses.” (1662 BCP, International Version, pages 264-265).
It is in fact the case that the Lord desires you to be fruitful in Him and in the power of the Holy Spirit. To ask that 2022 will be the most fruitful year of your life, and of your church’s life, is asking for something He wants you to ask for. It is humble to ask for what He wants you to ask. It is proud to refuse to ask for what He wants you to ask.
Finally – Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)
For some of you, it seems like a waste of time to pray such prayers and make such commitments. You say to yourself – “I am too young; too old; too talentless; too shut-in; too shy; too poor; too whatever.” Well yes, you might be all those things and worse, but it is the Lord that makes you fruitful, not you that makes yourself fruitful. He uses the weak in the world to shame the wise.
His word reminds you, “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power can rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
I hope that you make this a commitment and a prayer for 2022. In 2023, you can make the commitment and the prayer again, that in 2023 the Lord will grant you an even more fruitful year than 2022! God bless.