Back in January 2020, I wrote a blog post titled “4 Prayers for the New Year.” The four things I mentioned in that post were:
- I’m praying you will baptize more in 2020 than you did in 2019;
- I’m praying the hearts of the people in your church will warm to the gospel;
- I’m praying you build relationships with young men;
- I’m praying for more churches to realize the replanting opportunities that exist.
Those were really good things to pray in January, and I think they still are. But, obviously, we had no idea all that 2020 had in store. So, as we turn the page (thankfully) to a new year, here are four things I’m praying for you and your church as we look toward the new year.
1) I’m praying God will protect the unity of your church.
In 2020 we saw churches fight over whether or not to require (or even ask) attendees to wear face coverings. We also saw churches fight over (and some pastors get fired over) whether or not to keep the building open during the pandemic. Every pastor I know had to make difficult decisions about closing, reopening, reimagining ministries and events and reworking weekly schedules to comply with capacity restrictions and public health orders. 2020 led to unprecedented (sorry, I had to use that word) issues that every church had to face. Perhaps you dealt with some conflict and disunity during the year as you sought to make wise decisions.
As we look to the new year, I’m praying God will protect and build the unity of your congregation as we, prayerfully, emerge from the pandemic. While we still don’t know what the new normal will look like, we do know that God desires His people to be united around the truth of His Word.
2) I’m praying people return to your church hungry to grow in their relationship with God.
One of the things I learned in 2020 is that I took the ability to gather with the local church for granted. If I’m being completely honest, gathering with our church became almost an afterthought. It’s not that I didn’t consider it important. After all, I’m a full-time pastor! But it was a routine – a normal part of my week. In mid-March, that routine was disrupted in a big way. For 8 weeks our local church was unable to meet in person. And, while I’m certainly grateful for the technology that allowed us to continue ministering, it wasn’t the same. Our local church began meeting in person again on Memorial Day weekend, but it’s not been the same. Many people have not felt comfortable being around crowds again.
Most of the church members with whom I’ve interacted over the past 10 months are ready to be able to gather with other believers again. They are hungry to be back with the people of God. I pray the same is true for the people in your congregation. While I do hope your church grows numerically (more on this in a bit), I hope the people who are there grow spiritually.
3) I’m praying that people who found your church online will attend in-person.
My prayer is that your ministry footprint increased greatly over the last year. I know it may not seem like it right now, as your current attendance probably pales in comparison with pre-Covid numbers. But I’ve had several interactions with people who moved to town, found us online and watched for several weeks before they ever attended in person. I’m praying the same is true for your church. I’m praying the gospel you faithfully preach, week in and week out, will take root in people’s hearts who perhaps stumbled upon your church’s Facebook live video out of sheer desperation for some type of hope.
4) I’m praying for rest for you and your family.
Almost every pastor I’ve talked with near the end of 2020 is exhausted. I know of very few (myself included) who took their full vacation time this last year. In my own case, it was simply a matter of trips getting cancelled, then rescheduling, only to have those cancelled as well. This has been a year of spiritual and emotional exhaustion unlike anything most of us have seen. So, I’m praying for a special season of rest for you and your family. Let me encourage you to take some time off, especially early this year. If you haven’t typically had a day off each week, schedule one and unplug. Take care of your family and your own soul. Read some books just for fun. Go for a walk on a nice day. Rest in the Lord.
I’m immensely grateful for you, pastor. I believe we will see God do great things in 2021! If we can encourage or serve you in any way, please email [email protected]. God bless you, your family and your church. I’m praying you have a very Happy New Year!
Published December 29, 2020