I called this post 'New Goals for a New Year' and it's only December 3 so what's up with that? Glad you asked.
I stopped having New Year's resolutions a long time ago because most of them were broken on New Year's Day or soon after. It was depressing and always instilled a sense of failure in me. Not a good way to start a year bursting with possibilities.
Instead, I now make a list of New Year's GOALS. I think about things I'd like to accomplish, make a list, and try to make a plan for achieving those goals. I have some things on my list for 2012, but the first thing I'm going to do is fast. Let me explain...
Last year in November and December I found a grant option for health/mental health professionals who live in rural areas that would pay off student loans for them in exchange for the promise of two years of service in the area. It sounded great but I anticipated a lot of obstacles so I began to pray about it. Then I began to think about ways to really focus on that issue in pray and I believe God led me to the idea of fasting. I continued to pray about that and research biblical fasting. Then, on New Year's Eve, Jeff and I were in a bookstore and I found the book: Jentzen Franklin's book and journal on fasting. It was just what I needed.
In a nutshell, Pastor Franklin leads his entire church in a 21 day fast each January. It's how they start the new year. I read his book and was hooked, and very excited. I did the 21 day fast in January and it was such an amazing experience that for the next five months I continued to fast one day a week. It is an amazing spiritual discipline and one that I want to continue.
So, first on my list for the new year is a 21 day fast. Fasting is not always a total 'no food at all' thing. It can be that, or it can be giving up sweets, or skipping one meal a day, whatever you feel led by God to do. The point is that you change your focus from food to God. You refrain from something that gives you pleasure to refocus on listening to God speak to you and work in your life. AMAZING!
I'll be posting on fasting through the month of December in preparation for my fast which I'll start on Monday, January 2. I hope that you will read these posts prayerfully and consider joining me. It is life-changing in ways you can't imagine.
As for my other goals, they'll be on the list and I'll share them with you later in the month, but they will be secondary to starting my new year off by dedicating it to the Lord.
What can I do in a year on my own? Nothing that will matter. What can happen in a year that is dedicated to a sovereign, omnipotent God with a plan?
I can't wait to find out. Fasting in January is a very tangible way to follow the command of scripture:
"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10
Do you want to know God on a deeper level? Do you want to see him exalted in your life, your family, your church, your community? If so, spend some quality time with him in prayer and fasting to start the year. It may become a new tradition for you.
I'm reading another book in preparation for my next fast; it's by Susan Gregory and it's called the Daniel Fast. Click on her name (and Pastor Franklin's) to check out the website for lot's more information.
Let me hear from you. Have you ever participated in a fast? What was it like for you? Would you do it again? do it differently? How did God speak to you during this time of fasting?
Please leave a comment below and share with us, and prayerfully consider joining me in a fast to begin the year. I'll be praying for you.