You have probably never read a Puritan Prayer, but if you have, you know they are very deep. The Lord has shown me over the past couple of years that reading the prayers of others not only helps my prayer life but instructs my heart on how to take on whatever is in front of me. As I began to plan for this coming new year, I found a prayer in The Valley of Vision called “Year’s End.” A few lines from it have brought me to some sincere thoughts at this year’s end.
If though hast appointed storms of tribulation, thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation, I shall not drown;
It is still very common for us to use the idea of “a storm” when we are struggling through life’s difficulties. As we consider the year in front of us, it seems wise to pray in a way that recognizes the year will not be perfect and will have some storms along the way. As I observe the current culture of the world around me I’ve noticed that people don’t typically plan for things to go wrong.
The prayer says, “If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,” which reminds me of Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:14. He says,
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
Paul’s concern for the church was that it would be mature and would stand strong against any crashing waves that life brings.
If I am to die, I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot, grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love, I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial, as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.
I don’t know about you, but my past New Year’s prayers have not included any thoughts of death. Can you imagine living in a Puritan world where a simple seasonal cold could mean your end? A difficult winter could mean your starvation… Job loss could mean your family losses absolutely everything. We forget that none of us know our end, but we should at least be ready for true loss. If Covid has taught us anything, it should be that the world could be turned upside down in a minute. Let us value what we have, but be prepared to sacrifice with great grace, faith, and glory to the Lord. Scripture reminds us of this in Philippians 1:21 –
For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
This old Puritan prayer can teach us so much about our prayer life and can change our outlook on the new year. How many of us are preparing our hearts for what may go wrong? Maybe the problem isn’t that the previous year was so bad, but that our hearts are always looking in anticipation of only good things. A perfect year is an unrealistic expectation. As we prepare for this new year, let us look with the expectation that no matter what comes our way, we will live a life faithful to our Lord.