Growing up in Grand Haven, Michigan, my family always spent New Year’s Eve attending the watchnight service at the Assemblies of God church near our home on Beechtree Street.  When the service began between 10:00 and 11:00 pm, we sang, listened to a sermon, then time was given for personal testimony when congregants stood to share their joys and sorrows as they talked about what God was doing in their lives.  When the clock’s hands neared midnight we gathered at the altar or stayed in our seats to “pray the new year in”.  Walking home after the service, I remember feeling at peace.

Praying the new year in was a way to stop at the end of one year and the beginning of the next, to be still and know that God is God.

As I look back on those watchnight services, I say to myself, “Good times!”

I am thankful that in my family and in that community there was an acknowledgement that each new year is a gift from God.  I’m thankful that as a child I developed the habit of looking back at each previous year to asses my life, to repent when it was needed, and to thank God for what He had done in my life.  I now see that this yearly service helped me develop the practice of praying as David prayed in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

Though watchnight services seem to be out of fashion, I plan to spend some time “praying the new year in”.  I want to take time to consider this past year and to express my profound gr attitude for all God has done.  I want to assess the year that has passed, and repent where repentance is needed.  And I want to invite God’s Spirit to be present in my life to guide me into and through this new year.

*A watchnight service is a Christian church service held on New Year’s Eve that concludes shortly after midnight.  Those in attendance review the past year, and seek God’s guidance as they look to the year ahead.