PRAYERS FOR THE NEW YEAR
Nikos Kazantzakis is an odd Greek name some of us may not recognize. Perhaps you know his work better than his name. Among other books, he wrote Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ. In his autobiography he outlines three prayers. The words go like this: “I am a bow in your hands, Lord, draw me, lest I rot.” “Do not overdraw me, Lord, for I shall break.” “Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break.”
Let me explain these words as I understand them. They are like three kinds of prayers rather than just three sentences. They seem to be appropriate thoughts for a new year. If honest, I suspect t you can find yourself in one of the prayers.
The first prayer says, “I am a bow in your hands, Lord. Draw me lest I rot.” Most of us have at some time made an initial response to God. We have asked God to “take us” and He did. The beginning point of the Christian journey is just that. We offer what we have to God and He takes us as we are.
Like all other relationships, there is a beginning point with God. Some get off to a good start and others do not. It is reassuring to know that God does take us as we are. He takes our warped and twisted motives and seeks to build something meaningful and useful out of them. Someone said, “He takes us warts and all.”
The second prayer says, “Do not overdraw me, Lord, for I shall break.” In the middle or maturing years of our commitment to the Lord, many of us find ourselves putting the brakes on. Some of us can identify with C.S. Lewis’ experience. He said he came reluctantly into the Kingdom screaming, kicking and protesting all the way. For though we have reached upward, still there is the downward pull that says, “Don’t get too involved; don’t believe too much; don’t get in too deep. As a Pastor, all too often I hear words like those or see actions that represent similar thoughts.
The second prayer is really a stalling tactic. Marriages will remain frayed, relationships unhealed and churches mediocre when we pray only the second prayer. It is the prayer of mediocrity.
The third prayer moves us on to a deeper challenge. It is a little foolhardy and might even be dangerous to the status quo. “Overdraw me, Lord, who cares if I break?” When the Spirit of God is moving in our lives, we yearn and stretch to give more of ourselves to God. The young know it well because they see better and hear clearer. When we get older we get set in our ways and become afraid to take risks. For sure, in some things, that is prudent thinking. There are physical challenges best left to the young and a wise person becomes more careful with financial resources with age.
However, in spiritual matters we can all be young at heart. In the Bible age was never a barrier to hearing and doing great things for God. The beauty of the Christian life is that the trumpet does blow every morning. The Lord has a fresh word for every day. Faith can continue to grow after our bodies have matured and aged.
So which prayer will you be praying as we begin another year? My prayer for this New Year in my home, in my church and in my personal life is the third one. Would you consider making it yours also? “Overdraw me, Lord, who cares if I break?” You will discover that the Lord has no interest in breaking anything except those thoughts and actions, patterns and habits which have kept a wall erected between you and Him. When you thought you were protecting yourself, instead, you were doing harm. When you lose yourself in Him you will find the real person you were created to become and long in your soul to be!
Mark 13:33 - Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Mark 14:38 - Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.