“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).

As we pass from one year into the next, many people do so with a list of resolutions. I used to do that, until I realized that I probably wouldn’t keep them much past February, at best. Instead I now use the time of moving from one year to another to list my blessings from the past year and my prayer requests for the year to come.

Some people may call that a bucket list of sorts, and I suppose it is, to some extent. But it’s much more eternally-focused than that. A bucket list is usually comprised of all the things a person wants to do before they die — climb Mt. Everest, zip-line the Grand Canyon, jump out of a perfectly good airplane in hopes the chute will work — but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m referring to a prayer list of those things that are nearest and dearest to my heart, desires that won’t change with the wind (or circumstances or age). One of the top items is the salvation of my loved ones.

From the time I became a believer in 1974, I prayed daily for my dad’s salvation. However, each January I also specifically listed it as one of my prayer focuses for that year. 1999 was no different — except that my dad would turn 88 that year and his health was failing fast. During the third week of October — the final year of my beloved father’s life — he did indeed receive Jesus as his Savior, and then promptly went home to be with him. Though we all missed him, we rejoiced at God’s faithfulness and unconditional love.

I have two primary focuses for my 2014 prayer list this year: first, that I would be obedient to fulfill whatever God has called me to during those 12 months; second, the salvation of family and friends and neighbors who don’t yet know the joy of God’s salvation. There are other requests, of course, but I imagine those two items will remain at the top of my annual lists until my wonderful Lord calls me home.

It’s a new year, beloved. If we know Christ as our Savior, all that has gone before has passed away and we are brand new in Him. May you shine His Light in a dark and needy world as we move into this new season of ministry!

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