The start of a new year is a time for all sorts of reflections, but the covenant prayer used throughout the Methodist church (and since taken up by others from different traditions) is one of the riches of liturgy.
The covenant prayer leads us to think about our commitment to God, in the context of God’s commitment to us. What does it really mean to us to say that we are followers of Christ? What difference does it make in our day-to-day lives?
I don’t know about everyone else, but when I come to pray this prayer I have to take a deep breath first. It’s not an easy thing to really mean, and although I try my best to mean it and live it, I know that I don’t always manage. Probably that’s why we return to it every year.
So at the beginning of a new year, take some time to read the covenant prayer, to pray it, and to think about what it means to live it. As you face the challenges it offers remember that a covenant is always between two parties, and no matter how well or otherwise we do at keeping up our end, God is always faithful and it is in God’s strength that we pray and live.
“I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.”