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Prayer, Plain and Simple

By Mark Herringshaw

 

“Be it here resolved that in 2010 I will…”

 

It’s that time once again. December 31st, “National Extreme Makeover Day,” the 24 hour stretch when everything is possible, tomorrow. There’s nothing particularly magical about this day, yet because of our need for renewal we use it as an opportunity to reboot, and state, officially, “from hence forward “I will…” or “I will not…” Hope springs eternal in the human heart…

 

About 100 million of us will make some form of formal New Year resolution this week. We will be healthier. We will get finances in order. We will learn something new. We will improve relationships. We will prepare for eternity. We will…

 

Will our promises work? Will we work? Will they last through to February? Will we last?

Goal setting experts suggest five simple steps that dramatically increase the likelihood that New Year resolutions will prompt genuine transformation in our lives.

 

1)    Make our intentions measurable and specific. I need to lose weight and I’m putting that objective into a concrete goal: “I will weigh 185 pounds on March 8, 2010 and stay there until December 31, 2010.”  

 

2)    Write them. Putting goals into words works a wonder. Psychologists suggest this exercise frees the left brain from asking “what?” and releases the right brain to solve “how?” I’m putting goals into words here and now… You can do the same in the comments section below if you choose!

 

3)    Tell someone. Asking for accountability from someone we trust brings extra leverage to our commitments. I’m sharing my resolutions with a friend I’m meeting with tomorrow. On top of that, I’m going public with one of them here…  

 

4)    Formalize no more than five personal goals at a time. Five is the capacity of our focus. Trimming my “wishes” down to five priorities is difficult but necessary if I’m going to move beyond “hope” to “will.”

 

5)    Pray. Yes, pray. I realize up front that I’m doomed to fail with all my plans to change myself. Yes, disillusion too is a necessary step, and with it a cry for help. Jesus once said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” In other words, all my intentions and plans AND commitments and disciplines Will in the end fall short. I’m not strong enough or focused enough, even with all the right strategies. Yes, I can improve the odds of success, but I can never dodge Jesus’ tenet: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” My spiritual mentor, Morris Vaagenes once put this principle into a prayer: “I can’t, you can, please do, thank you!” That is the key to transformation… and resolution… I can’t. Jesus can, through me. I can ask for that change, and then thank him for that completed promise.

“God, I want to change. I need to change. You made me for more than I am. But the truth is, I need more than my own resolve. I need you. I can’t make the changes I must. Please work in me to lead me toward my destiny. Give me strength and determination and focus and the humility to ask you to work when and where I cannot. Thank you ahead of time for your strength to accomplish your purposes in me. In Jesus…

I’ve written a book about his process of genuine transformation called “The Karma of Jesus.” Explore it and let me know what you think.

 

A blessed, complete and EFFECTIVE New Years to you!

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