A Prayer for 2023

Pastor Reed Bernick

Father in heaven,

You are worthy of our lives. We praise you because you have sustained us. You have remained near to us even as we’ve walked through tragedy and change. In answered prayer, in lives transformed, in tears shed on other’s shoulders, in strangers becoming friends, in the reconciliation of the estranged, and in your word proclaimed and heard across our congregation, you have proven yourself over and over again. We have no one in heaven but you, Lord – and there is nothing on earth that is sufficient for us. You alone are our strength and in you alone do we find the words of life. There is nothing else for us.

So we confess the ways we have failed to live as though you are worthy. We have sought to trust you and to be grateful for your provision – but sometimes we have been impatient or paranoid. We have granted the uncertainty of our situation too much influence when you have provided other, deeper assurances. In those moments when we found comfort in our own strength and security in our own efforts and energy – we confess that we failed to follow you as you commanded. When we dedicated ourselves to other things, even good things, and when we spent ourselves in pursuit of our own glory or comfort or goals – we confess that the road we took was wide, and that its end was our destruction.

But you have been tender and merciful with us. You have not answered our apathy with abandonment – but have drawn nearer to us. You have guided our steps and have consistently provided for our every need. You have allowed us to reap where we did not sow – and to prosper when our prosperity required more than we could give. Thank you for your love for us, for your endurance with us, and for your presence among us. These have been tangible gifts that we did not deserve and cannot repay. Thank you for every good gift – the ones we can trace and the ones we have not yet acknowledged. You are the Father of Lights in whom there is no darkness – and to know you is to love you.

We ask that you grant us peace as we grieve our losses: loved ones who are no longer with us, friends who have moved away, and coworkers who have moved along. As our community changes, comfort our hearts. Grant us perspective to reconceive of our worlds and our place within them. Keep us from despair and give us hope that in the passing away of things we love, we are allowed a portion of your grace which is new every morning. Inspire us to seize opportunities – to never take our relationships for granted. Let this new year be a year where your blessings for us are not just enjoyed but cherished.

We ask you to bless our new Pastor and his family – Robert, April, and their daughters. We thank you for introducing us and for calling them here to become a part of us. Prepare us for Robert’s leadership – equip us to help him and serve with him. Bind us together quickly and let the Stephens family establish deep and abiding connections here with us. Lead Robert as he leads us. Grant him wisdom and humility and love to take us where we need to be – especially when that is not where we want to be.

We ask that you be at work in our church. We have been walking through radical transitions – and those are not yet over. Give us endurance to move as you shape a new generation of leaders at First Baptist and as you prepare us for new work within Alexandria and around the world. But allow us to do so much more than simply endure: grant us faith so that we can celebrate the new things you will do in our midst. Let us hold so tightly to you that we have no strength left to lay hold of lesser things. May the successes of our past rest in peace and their successors take their place with joy and excitement. Let us sing new songs in a new year!

We ask these things in the name of your son, Jesus the Christ.

Amen.

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