Happy New Year! It seems like 2014 has flown by, but I welcome this upcoming year with great anticipation. It’s evident that God is at work, and that lives are being changed. I look forward to seeing how God continues to work in and through our church ohana throughout this year. In last month’s newsletter, I introduced a challenge for our church members for 2015: to be more intentional in sharing our faith, and to specifically pray for the lost. As part of that challenge, I asked everyone to prayerfully identify and pray for three people that don’t know Christ throughout the year. Prayer is powerful, and I hope that you take part in this with our church. We have response cards at the church but you can also email (email@example.com) the three people you’re praying for so that our deacons and pastors can pray for these individuals with you throughout the year.
I recognize that praying for those that don’t know Christ on a regular basis may be a new concept for some of you. In fact, simply praying in general on a daily basis for something other than a meal may be new for some of you. But prayer is important. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes. 5:16-18 ESV). “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ...” (Col. 4:2-3a ESV). There are many verses throughout Scripture that point us to prayer and we need to make it a regular and consistent part of our lives.
Resolutions often get broken. One of the reasons is that we often set unrealistic goals that are just too difficult and too hard to do consistently in the beginning. Doing so, simply sets us up for failure. It’s not to say we can’t ever reach lofty goals, but rather we must be more realistic in how we get there and work towards those goals in manageable steps. The important part is taking that first step, and then working towards the next one. For our prayer challenge, the first step is to prayerfully identify three people that don’t know Christ. I encourage you to take this step right now (you can always come back to this newsletter later). The next step would be to plan ahead and perhaps set up a regular time (if you don’t have one already) to pray for these three people. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy prayer time (remember manageable steps), but one that you can consistently do. While this step will vary for each person, do be specific about it (it helps with keeping your goals). For some, it’s convenient to set up a daily alarm at a specific time on your phone as a reminder to take time to pray even if briefly. Over time, these reminders won’t even be needed as they become healthy habits in your spiritual walk.
Forming healthy habits can be difficult at first, but the key is perseverance and working towards them in manageable and realistic steps. We may not see immediate results, but God is listening, and we must have patience and trust His timing. I’ve heard that it takes 21 days of consistency to form or break a habit. The reality is that each person varies and it is actually harder to break a habit than create a new one. But there is a clear correlation to repeated behaviors becoming more natural or instinctive over time. Whatever timeframe this may be, with more repetition, the more natural the behavior becomes. I understand that there may be times we forget or fall behind with our goals, but these are not reasons or excuses to quit. Simply start again.
As a church family, we will be praying for one another and encouraging one another. Share and pray with others about this. There is power in prayer.
One of the best ways to achieving a resolution is to make sure that it is something that you personally really want to achieve. It doesn’t do any good for others to tell you that prayer is effective and powerful. You have to believe it. This may mean that your first step is actually having a quiet moment of prayer where you examine your heart and seek repentance. God is gracious, loving, and merciful. Turn to Him, seek Him, and fix your eyes upon Him.
I’ve mentioned the first few steps to take in this newsletter, and will be sharing subsequent steps in future ones. We will be praying together as a church family, and I look forward to seeing how God will move. Again, I wish you a blessed and Happy New Year.