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A Prayer for Success in The New Year

A Prayer for Success in The New Year December 31, 2021

Psalm 20:4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. 

Happy New Year!  May God grant you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed in this latest flip of the calendar.

But which desires and which plans?  We make little plans every day that are of little consequence—or at least, seemingly so.  Like: I suppose God doesn’t care so much for what sort of peanut butter we add to the shopping list (though no doubt he prefers all-natural chunky).  Yet if God leaves it to us to sort out the footnotes, then surely the great hinge moments of our lives matter to him.  Who we marry and what we do come to mind—the heartthrob and the good job.  There we ask for God’s blessing, knowing at some level that whatever God blesses, he also wants to have a say in.  But what of matters in between, like whether to take a trip or refinance the house or buy that ice cream maker with the built in compressor?  

Maybe the question gets down to this: What’s mine and what’s God’s?  We ask this of money, which is really amounts to the same thing, because money is in essence a technology for storing the power to effect our plans.  We can do stuff and buy stuff and make stuff happen through money—not just money, to be sure, but money often functions as an approximation for influence.  With money, the biblical answer is clear: It’s all God’s.  Everything that we have belongs to God.  As the psalms put it: To God belong “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10).  

What’s more, Psalm 20, like its pair, Psalm 21, is a royal song for victory.  The psalms are ascribed to David, and both pray to God for success in battle—and assume God’s response (20:6; 21:2).  Which is to say that they’re not psalms for unspecified people seeking open-ended success.  They’re psalms originally aimed at the king of God’s covenant people.  They’re words for those who already belong to God, seek God, worship God—those who commit their lives and affairs to God.  They assume the give and take of walking “before the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:9).

All of which is to say that the line between what matters to God and what does not is artificial.  It all matters: what we do and say, work and play.  Teach us Lord to number our days (Psalm 90:12).  Everything matters not in a this-will-be-on-the-test sort of way, but in that as much as we live and move and have our being in him, our lives—and thus our plans—are drawn to Christ.  “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).  In our little ways, we begin to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).  From the renewing of our minds, we discern something of God’s will in all things (Romans 12:2).

In the grace of Christ we can pray the words of Psalm 20:4 with the ebullient confidence of David.  May God give me the desire of my heart!  May God make all my plans succeed!  We ask in confidence because we believe God has shaped our desires and plans to this moment, and we humbly trust that God crafts our future in ways that coincide with the longings of our heart—and his.

May God’s favor rest upon all you do in 2022!

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