On December 31 at ten o’clock at night, numerous churches in the United States have a Watch Night service. It doesn’t end until after twelve o’clock when the new year arrives. The Watch Night service is associated with the freeing of slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation. Other church, however, simply call it the New Year’s Eve service without any reference to slavery.
Regardless of what you call it, the service mostly consists of singing and praying. The church members reflect on events of the past year and focus on their goals for the New Year. The services give people the opportunity to pray for spiritual blessings with their fellow church members.
What do Christians around the world pray for when they begin the New Year? I imagine that some people pray for more money. Some of them probably pray for God to bless their loved one. Some people pray for God to improve their health, to take away whatever ails them. Some people might simply pray for a better income tax return.
When the New Year begins, I have a tendency to pray for more money, more opportunities, to be healthier, and continued blessings for me and my family. I also pray that in the New Year I have more opportunities to get more involved in the church. My job sometimes make it hard for me to attend every church service.
I believe that the start of the New Year is a time to start fresh. I believe it’s a time to get past the mistakes or problems of the previous year, to learn from them so that we won’t repeat them in the next one. In my opinion, the New Year represents a new beginning, a time to be born again. As Christians, we should understand this concept very well.
When a person decides to become a Christian, they’re basically deciding to be born again. As the scripture 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
So, what does this mean? It means that you no longer hate the people around you. It means that you made the decision to stop having multiple sex partners. It means that you gave up your life as an alcoholic. It means that you no longer lie, cheat, and steal from your neighbors. It means that you made the decision to walk in the spirit. It means you made the decision to stop sinning.
You have the ability to make this decision because Jesus sacrificed his life for your sins. For example, in the time of Moses, if you were caught messing around with another person’s spouse, they would drag you out of your tent (or house) and stone you the death, because that was the law. After Jesus died for your sins, you were no longer under the law and in essence, gave you the opportunity to change your ways.
1 John 1:9 explains what we have to do. It says that “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. In other words, by confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness, he cleanses, or wipes away, our pass sins. The Amplified verses says “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promise) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”
When you decide to come to Christ, you do it freely — you do it willingly. Some people will come to Christ only when they’re experiencing a hardship or if they believe they only have a certain amount of time to live. Whey they do this, the question they have to ask themselves is will Christ accept them? We can quote scriptures all day about this, but will forgiveness be too late for them? I do not want to take that chance so I do it freely because one, I’ve made mistakes and sincerely asked for forgiveness, and two, I don’t want to find out at the end of my life if it’s too late to be forgiven.
That’s why if you want to give your life to God, you have to do it now. You have to pray now for forgiveness and blessings. God will constantly give you chances to turn your life around, to start anew. We have to be like the Apostle Paul — we have to learn from our mistakes and listen to the word of God.