There’s a long-standing tradition in the Methodist movement, one that began with John Wesley himself in the eighteenth century and continues in some form throughout much of Methodism today: the tradition of Watchnight. Watchnight, often observed on New Year’s Eve (but appropriate at any time of year), is a worship service aimed at reflecting on the year that has passed and preparing for the year ahead. Confession, prayer, and resolution are all important features of Watchnight.
The central moment in a Watchnight service, though, is often a prayer known as the Wesley Covenant Prayer, a prayer that invites us to reaffirm and renew our covenant with God, who has called us to be disciples and to spread God’s love in the world. Even as we renew our covenant, we celebrate that God never fails to keep God’s side of the agreement: God is always with us, always loving us, always forgiving us, always inviting us to the fullness of life.
At this start of a new calendar year, I invite you to spend some time with this prayer. Hang a copy of it near your bathroom mirror, or tuck it into your wallet. Take a picture and save it on your phone, or put a sticky note near your computer. Meditate on this prayer, and invite God to lead you into this new year. Remember that God is yours, and you are God’s. So be it.
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Grace and peace to you,