Welcome to 2018, everyone! I’m so grateful for the privilege of a blessed life in this New Year and so grateful to share it with all of you in the Forsyth Family Magazine.
As I flip through the crowded pages my 2017 calendar, I can easily observe the business of the previous year. (Yes, I am one of the few people of my generation that keeps a paper calendar!) There are events noted in pencil and smudges where dates have been erased. Other dates are marked in pen or marker. There are even a few crayon or highlighter dates! To anyone else, it would seem a colorful jumbled mess, but in my eyes, it is filled with memories of ministry and mission. This messy calendar is tangible evidence of the ways God has been at work through our community to transform lives with grace, hope and love. The calendar pages are now very different from the crisp clean pages I purchased in November of the previous year.
On the last Sunday of the year, I sat with our children in a worship celebration at Sunrise United Methodist Church. I shared with them my brand-new calendar for the upcoming year. On those blank pages, each child had the opportunity to choose a day: to write their name on one day, to mark it as special. I vowed to pray for them by name on whatever day they chose. Some chose their birthday, some a favorite holiday, others seemed to have no logic at all driving their selection, but everyone was eager to mark a day. It has been a joy to pray for, and give thanks to, God for each child in our congregation on their day of choice.
If you could choose any day of 2018 to mark as your own, to know you would be prayed for by name, what day would you choose? Would you pick a day of celebration, or remembrance—a day you know will be a challenge and you can use the extra prayers or a day you especially want to feel the peaceful presence of the living God with you?
My friend Tim Bralley reminds me weekly that prayer is the most powerful form of communication we have. Time set apart to commune with the Creator of the Universe and the Divine Life, is no doubt one of the coolest things I do each day. As Christians, we are certain prayer changes things. Not simply by changing outcomes or answers upon our request, but prayer changes us. Prayer is not the vending machine through which we request and receive from God. Rather, prayer changes our perspective, our attitude and even our nature by glorifying the name of God. O. Hallesby writes, “Prayer is the appointed way of giving Jesus the opportunity to exercise his supernatural powers of salvation. And in doing so he desires to make use of us.”
I love the conversation between Jesus and the curious Pharisee, Nicodemus, in John 3. I’m challenged by their discussion of transformation to new life, and life in the Spirit. I wonder though, how Nicodemus prayed differently after this conversation with Christ. At times we recite the same prayers we were taught to say and at other times, as we grow in our prayers, they become a deeper and more intimate conversation with God. Did Nicodemus pray differently after hearing the verdict: “light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light” (v.19)?
Prayer is means of grace that transforms us so that we can transform the world. As we begin a new calendar year, I resolve to examine my prayer life with one simple question. I pose this same question to you. If God were to answer a resounding “Yes” to every single prayer you offered today, would anyone, other than you, experience life change?