Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

The Secret of Successful New Year Resolutions

Are you making a New Year Resolution? What odds would you give yourself for sustaining your goal? 80%? 50%? 20%?


Bad news: According to studies on weight loss (the most common resolution), by February almost 60 percent of us will have abandoned our resolve. By May close to 90 percent will have dropped off. By December 31st next year, only 3 percent of us will have sustained our promise to ourselves. Does that match your experience?



It matched the life of Paul the Apostle. In his letter to the Romans (7:15-25a) he admits, “The things I want to do I do not do; and the things I do not want to do, I do! What a wretched man I am!”


Our problem is not intention. We know full well what we want to be and what we want to stop being. We can set our goals specifically and muster desire and will to follow through. The problem is the weakness and fickleness of this will. We just don’t last. Our intentions are sincere, but they are fleeting.



Martin Luther discovered this too and wrote a treatise about it called, “The Bondage of the Will.” It’s a testament against a medieval religious system that was not unlike today’s popular self-improvement cult. The claim then (and today) is, if we find the right order of discipline, the right human technology, the right system we can change anything about ourselves. The monastic system of Europe was built on this premise. With rigor and constraint the will can be bent to re-forge the soul and body.



Luther tried an “extreme makeover” on himself. As a monk he used his extraordinarily vigorous will to try and master his passions. What he discovered was that even his most-German stubbornness could not outlast his lazy and wayward flesh. Discipline wasn’t enough. Temptation outlasted resolve. If he was to desire goodness it could only come as the imposed gift of God.  


Luther and Paul (like most of us) learned the hard way the limits of personal resolve. Both of them discovered that God is ready and able to grant us his power to the very things he expects of us. The irony is that we CAN’T do what we must do. But he can do those things through us. If you need to become a better person, change a bad habit, muster some specific change, know up front you probably can’t do this on your own. You’ll need the power of God through you to be right and good. That’s where prayer comes in. The best resolution is to pray for your resolutions!



“God, I want to be different. I want to fulfill my purpose. I want to break through and go beyond the limitations that keep crippling me. I want to change. I ask you today to give me your strength to do what I must and become the person I was intended to be. Give me your power to do your first best. Thank you. I receive and accept this gift, now, 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.

  • Kim

    After battling with depression for just about as long as I can remember, I’ve thought a lot–especially lately–about the will and how weak it really is. Thanks for exploring this in this post, and for pointing out that it’s okay to give in and ask for help in prayer.

  • bondage

    When I was in the army I had a gun in my mouth. I was ready to pull the trigger. all that was needed was this light move of the finger and it would all be finished.
    I did not hesitate, it was late in night and the world was quite.
    suddenly i had a thought that there are so many people dieing every moment, and I have the privilege to be alive. I have food, I have people who love me and I have life that was given to me for a short period of time ( 50-90 years I was hoping).
    I felt small under the stars, i felt that god was looking at me.
    I decided that life was not for me to give or take and that if I have life than I was worth having them and will try and do the best I can while having life.

Previous Posts

Lifting Hands in Prayer
"Lift up holy hands in prayer, and praise the Lord." Psalm 134:2 When my dad was fighting in the South Pacific during WWII, my mom would quite uncharacteristically lift her hands to Heaven, pleading for God's protection over her beloved ...

posted 10:29:12am Nov. 25, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer to be a Peacemaker
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit ...

posted 12:48:31pm Nov. 23, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for a Life of Integrity
Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely ...

posted 9:43:50am Nov. 19, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer For Sanity
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever... When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. ...

posted 12:47:26pm Nov. 18, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for Wisdom When Your Back’s Against the Wall
When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. (Daniel 2:14) Daniel was scheduled to be executed along with all the wise men in Babylon’s court. Daniel was an ...

posted 9:43:38am Nov. 16, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.