The start of a new year seems a good time to both look back and look ahead. The Bible encourages us to do both, and it warns us not to get excessive in either. Too much looking back stifles our forward motion. Too much planning ahead can rob us of the joy each day holds.
That's why the start of each new year is also a wonderful time to focus on prayer. By prayer I mean talking to God, both telling him what's on our heart, and listening to what's on his. Most years we begin with a week of prayer at Caledonia Congregational Church, and this year is no exception. I want to encourage everyone to take time in the week of January 5-11 to pray, and here are a few suggestions for that prayer...
Prayer is more than just asking. Be sure to include thanksgiving and praise. Not only does God deserve it, thanks and praise draws us right into his presence. It allows us to hear from him better. It is a statement of confidence in him. Don't just read a list. Tell God from your heart what you really appreciate about Him and all he has done for you.
Prayer also includes confession. No point pretending that we haven't messed up, or that God doesn't know about it. He does, and he promises to forgive us if we will confess. Unconfessed sin separates us from God and gives the devil a chance to use it against us. Confess.
Prayer should also include silence and listening. How else can we know what God wants for us, from us? How else will we hear how much he loves us? Sometimes, our very best prayer will be without words, simply being still in his presence. Be still. Let him speak to you.
Prayer of course also includes petition and intercession. By these we tell God what is on our mind or our heart, and ask for his intervention. There is an endless list of things we might pray for. But again, I encourage you not to merely recite your list. Choose those that are most pulling on your heart, and talk to God about them. We all will have our own personal requests. Please also pray for us as a congregation: that we will be growing in spiritual depth, in unity, in Christ-like-ness, in love for God and others. Pray for the leadership of the church. Pray that all we do honors Christ. Pray that we would have impact on our world for him. Pray that we would be such a reflection of Christ that others would want what we have. Pray that we will be humble, submitted, courageous, faithful. Or just pray what ever is on your heart.
These are just a few suggestions. If they help, fine. If not, ignore them. Far more important is that we pray. Please do. Paul challenges us to pray without ceasing. This is a good time to start...
JANUARY 2014 CALENDAR
Sunday January 5 - Worship Service with Communion - 10:30 am - Sharing Sunday
Ivan Snugg's Visitation - 1-4 PM - Highland Memorial Funeral Home - Rt. 76 & Squaw Prairie Rd. Sunday January 5- Saturday through January 11 - Week of Prayer (see above)
Monday January 6 - Ivan Snugg's Funeral - 2 PM - Highland Memorial Funeral Home - Rt. 76 & Squaw Prairie Rd., lunch to follow at church.
Tuesday January 7 - Church Board Meeting - 7 PM - Church fellowship room.
Saturday January 11 - Men's Book Study - 8:30 am - Meets Saturdays at Dandy Donuts. Talk to Cam Staman if interested. Sunday January 12 - Worship Service - 10:30 am - Baptism of Dale Thayer
Annual Meeting and Potluck - Downstairs immediately following worship. Bring a dish or two to pass for the potluck.
Thursday January 16 - Service Opportunity - Help serve the community dinner at Poplar Grove Church. Talk to Sandy Free if interested.
Saturday January 18 - SIS Meeting - 9 am - Church fellowship room - Voting for new officers.
Sunday January 19 - Worship - 10:30 am
Sunday January 26 - Worship Service - 10:30 am - Installation of new church board members. Hiking at Rock Cut State Park following fellowship.
Blue Barrel - Your chance to help a needy hungry person or family. Let's keep bringing food for our food barrel.
Greeters - Sign up in the fellowship room.
Refreshments - Sign up in the fellowship room.
Book Exchange - Winter is a good time to read! Books and magazines are in the basement, waiting to be borrowed.
Women's Book Study - Interested in a study with other women? In February, we will be studying the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. It is described as an experimental mutiny against excess. Sign up in the fellowship room if interested.
Alpha - The Alpha course is for anyone who would like to explore what Christianity really is all about. It is a video with discussion following. We are planning on starting another session soon. Sign up in the fellowship room if interested, or talk to Gary.