Charles Spurgeon, a nineteenth-century pastor who has been dubbed the ‘Prince of Preachers’, also left behind an extensive legacy of writings. I particularly love his devotional book Morning and Evening for its wisdom and biblical richness.
In his devotions for the first few days of January, Spurgeon speaks directly about the new year. I found them to be a helpful corrective amid our obsession with making resolutions about health, money, and work.
Spurgeon speaks about two important themes: rejoicing and prayer.
What heavens are laid up in Jesus! What rivers of infinite bliss have their source, aye, and every drop of their fulness in him! Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, thou art the present portion of thy people, favour us this year with such a sense of thy preciousness, that from its first to its last day we may be glad and rejoice in thee. Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus. (1 January, evening)
It’s clear that Spurgeon was eager to see people find their joy in God himself. Now that the Christmas season is over, many of us look for fulfillment in the resolutions we make. We think that if we can just do better and be better this year, we’ll be happy. But the reality is that shedding extra pounds or getting a pay rise won’t make us content.
The only place we will find real, lasting joy that grows deeper with time is in Jesus Christ. He offers infinite fountains of bliss to those who know and love him. So ask God for greater joy in Jesus this year—a joy that won’t die with January, but will last all the way to December.
We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it…A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love. Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.” (2 January, morning)
Sometimes we make resolutions about relationships. You might want to spend more time with your family, keep up contact with faraway friends, or grow closer to your kids. But what about our most important relationship? Our constant desire should be to grow closer to Jesus, our Saviour and King.
We can’t rely on willpower to improve our prayer life, as we tend to do with other resolutions. The very God we pray to is the one who gives us the desire and power to pray. He works in us by his Holy Spirit, so that we can have close communion with Jesus. When you feel like your prayers and weak and cold, ask him for help. Ask him this year, over and over, to help you continue in prayer.
Whether you make resolutions or not, the most important thing you can do this year is to fix your eyes upon Jesus. And keep doing it. If December rolls around and you haven’t made any progress in your life goals, but your love and zeal for Jesus is stronger than ever, you have all you need. He is the most important treasure you could find in 2019—so seek him, rejoice always, and abound in prayer.
You can find the full text of Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening online here.