A Time of Seeking
By Rebecca Livermore
The words, "Happy New Year!" bring a lot of different images to mind. Many people think of silly hats and noise makers; others may think of getting drunk or other reckless and ungodly behavior, and still others make a list of resolutions. Some of the resolutions are spiritual, such as reading through the Bible, and others are on a more physical plane, such as exercising three times a week.
Although resolutions may have a place, and are certainly not necessarily bad, a more meaningful exercise may be to have a time set apart specifically for seeking God regarding the old year ending and the New Year beginning.
Below are suggestions for organizing a Time of Seeking for a small group, but each of the ideas may be used by an individual or a family as well.
The suggested time frame is only that-a suggestion. If the suggested times are followed, the Time of Seeking will last for an hour, plus whatever time you spend in worship and communion. I would not personally recommend a shorter time; consider spending more time if you are able.
Additionally, although this is written as if it will happen in one sitting, you may stretch it out over a week, if you would like. The most important thing is to spend at least 20 minutes in each of the suggested activities.
Here's how it works:
Gather in a place large enough for group members to spread out. To prepare hearts to hear from God, spend a short time in worship. If you do not have someone available to lead worship, put on a worship CD and encourage people to worship within their own hearts silently (if they are not comfortable singing out loud in a small group) while you play the CD.
Hand out, and go over, the following format for spending the next hour alone with God. Don't treat this as an assignment but rather as a guide. Some members of your group may already have a clear idea of how to spend an hour in prayer. Encourage people to "do their own thing" if they are comfortable doing so, but each person should spend at least some time on each of the three categories below.
1. A Time of Laying Down Concerns (20 minutes).
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Pet. 5:7 NIV)
If you're entering this Time of Seeking with a lot of concerns, start by listing them. Jot down everything that concerns you, no matter how small. One by one, go through your list. If you can't do anything about the concern, bring it before the Lord in prayer. If you can do something about it, spend time praying about it, and then write down the action you need to take on a "do list." Conclude this time by committing all of your concerns to the Lord.
2. A Time of Reflection (20 minutes).
"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago." (Ps. 77:11 NIV)
Think over the events of the past year. On one page make a list of struggles and failures in the past year. One by one, go through each item on the list. Confess your sins to the Lord. Ask for His forgiveness, and thank Him for an opportunity to start fresh.
On another page make a list of blessings and successes from the past year. Thank and praise God for His goodness in your life this past year.
3. A Time of Looking Forward (20 minutes).
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jer. 29:11 NIV)
Ask God what He would like to accomplish in and through you in the coming year. You might want to consider the following areas: spiritual life, family life, ministry, career, and finances. Take one area at a time and wait on God, asking Him to reveal His plans for your life. Jot down your thoughts as they come to you. Spend time praying about each area.
Conclude this hour by thanking God for His forgiveness, His provision in the past, and His plans for your future.
After the individual prayer time concludes, gather for corporate communion. Conclude by giving people an opportunity to share about their hour in prayer. If you do your Time of Seeking as an individual, consider who might be encouraged by hearing about it, and share your experience with them. Doing so may encourage them to have their own Time of Seeking.
Rebecca Livermore, a Christian speaker and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her passion is helping people grow spiritually. To read more of her articles on Christian living, and to check out her always growing selection of Christian resource materials, visit http://www.rebeccalivermore.com.