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Holy Habit: Pray Your Way into New Year’s Day

With these five prayers, turn the transition from one year to next into a spiritual one with devotion and fellowship.

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When I was growing up, my family went to a special late-night church service every December 31st that everyone called “Watchnight.” The idea was that we would usher out the old year and welcome the new in the same way—with prayer, devotion, fellowship, and worship. It was a good intention and a holy habit. In my case, however, as a child, its main appeal was that it was the one day out of 365 that I was allowed to stay up past midnight.

That’s no longer an attraction for me. But I still think the transition from one year to the next is a golden opportunity to end well and begin anew. It’s not a religious holiday, of course, but the days and hours leading up to midnight on December 31 can become a holy day with just a few sincere and intentional prayers, drawn from hymns. Feel free to sing or speak these prayers:

1) Praise (from a Charles Wesley hymn)

The Lord of earth and sky,
The God of ages, praise,
Who reigns enthroned on high,
Ancient of endless days,
Who lengthens out our trials here,
And spares us yet another year.

2) Confession (from a Charlotte Elliott hymn)

Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

3) Thanks (from an Albert H. Hutchinson hymn)

For all the blessings of the year,
For all the friends we hold so dear,
For peace on earth, both far and near,
We give you thanks, O Lord.

For life and health, those common things,
Which ev’ry day and hour brings,
For home, where our affection clings,
We give you thanks, O Lord.

For your great love which never tires,
Which all our better thought inspires,
And warms our lives with heav’nly fires,
We give you thanks, O Lord.

4) Petition (from a Philip Doddridge hymn)

Our vows, our prayers, we now present
before thy throne of grace;
God of our fathers, be the God
of their succeeding race.

Through each perplexing path of life
our wandering footsteps guide;
give us each day our daily bread,
and raiment fit provide.

O spread thy covering wings around
till all our wanderings cease,
and at our Father’s loved abode
our souls arrive in peace.

5) Commitment (from a Laurence Tuttiet hymn)

Father, let me dedicate
This new year to Thee,
In whatever worldly state
Thou wilt have me be;
Not from sorrow, pain, or care
Would I ask that Thou shouldst spare;
This alone shall be my prayer,
Glorify Thy name.

This year, you may still want to go to a Watchnight service on New Year’s Eve, if churches in your community are hosting them. But whether you go out or stay in, go to bed early or stay up late, these prayers can help you pray your way into New Year’s Day. It may become your new holy habit.

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