Starting the year with John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer


Tonight in our youth service at the start of 2016 we used the traditional Methodist covenant prayer:

‘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.’

The prayer was adapted by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, for use in services for the Renewal of the believer’s Covenant with God.  Wesley says that the first service was held on Monday 11 August 1755, at the French church at Spitalfields in London, with 1,800 people present.  The words of that original covenant prayer are lost, but are thought to be reflected in the Directions for Renewing our Covenant with God which Wesley issued as a pamphlet in 1780.  Services using the Covenant prayer have been included in most Methodist books of liturgy since.

What things do you do with your youth group to help them reflect on the new year?

What can you expect God to do in your life in 2016?


Stephen Altrogge wrote a great blog post on what can you expect God to do in your life back in 2013.  It’s well worth checking out, here’s a snippet:

  • God’s mercies to follow you, and pursue you, every every minute of every hour of every day. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ” (Psalm 23:6)
  • God to meet every single true need that should arise. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
  • God to lead you, counsel you, guide you, and give you wisdom. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • God to freely forgive your sins each time you repent. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
  • God to wonderfully correct and discipline you if you should stray into sin. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)
  • God to continue working powerfully in you as you pursue holiness. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
  • God to help you overcome patterns of sin that have plagued you for years. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. ” (Romans 6:14)
  • God to use trials in your life to refine and purify your faith. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
  • God to give you every good thing. “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

God has promised to do all these things, and many more. His promises are sure. 2013 is bursting with blessings.

“For 2014, Tweet Less, Read More”

Great article here in the NY Times.  His conclusion:

For more than two decades, there’s been a celebration of slow food. Over the last few years, we’ve proved receptive to slow TV. What we really need is slow debate. It would trade the sugary highs and lows of rapid-fire outrage for a more balanced diet. We’d be healthier. Probably happier, too.

Read the rest here.

Assembly: New Year: Hope, Success and Failure

Over the last week I’ve done several assemblies in different local schools on the theme of New Year resolutions:

Before the assembly begins, whilst students are still coming in, have a slideshow running with the question ‘did you make a new year’s resolution’ ‘have you already broken it?’ and various statistics and images linked to resolutions.

As the young people come in to the hall, ask the students in the front row to write whether they made any New Year resolutions, and if so have they failed already’ on some paper, while the rest of the year group are coming in.


At the start of the assembly say that we asked your views on New Year resolutions, if you made any, and have you broken them already.  Here are some of your thoughts, and read their viewpoints out.  Here’s a Top 10 illustrated by cats:

Lots of us will have made resolutions, and it is likely that most of us will break them. GMTV asked viewers to email in their new years resolutions. Here are the top 5 that came out of that poll:

  • To lose weight
  • Save money/spend less
  • Recycle/become greener
  • Get fit/exercise more
  • Stop smoking

CBBC on their website suggested that the top 5 new years resolutions would be:

  • To get fit
  • Stop biting my nails
  • Keep room tidy
  • Eat less junk food
  • Start a new hobby

Research suggests that around only 12-29% of us will be successful in keeping our resolution.  So this morning we wanted to share with you 3 people who made massive goals and targets, and how they coped with trying to reach them.

Thomas Edison: ‘father of the modern world’ (1847–1931)

Thomas Edison 

‘No one did more to share the physical character of our present day civilization … he was the most influential figure of the Millennium.’

One of Thomas Edison’s 1,093 inventions was the light bulb filament, but it took him over 3,000 attempts to invent it! That means 2,999 attempts at getting it to work, failed. He worked 18-hour days and only had five hours’ sleep a night. He said to his friends,

‘I don’t even need exercise, I don’t need to play golf because I have all the exercise I need going from one lab to another.’

Michael Jordan ‘The greatest sports star of all time?’

Michael Jordan

In a similar vein, in my opinion Michael Jordan may be the greatest sports star of all time. He won six NBA world titles – the most valuable player in all of them. He won the NBA slamdunk contest twice, changing it for ever. He scored 32,292 points in his career. He was, unlike many players these days, ‘the complete package’: he had the greatest offence, stifling defence and he was a media phenomenon, doing feature films through to cereal adverts. Yet he said this:

‘I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. Twenty- six times I have been trusted to take the game-winning shot and have missed; I have failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.’

Somehow, in this instant world of Pot Noodles, McDonald’s and quick boiling kettles, where the National Lottery promises us the ultimate get rich quick scheme and we respond to spam emails believing that someone has left us £2 million if we could only send them £100 for an administration fee(!), the concept that failure strengthens has been lost. Often, it is in failure that we learn to succeed.

Paul: The Greatest Christian

Paul says:

‘… I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate’ (Rom. 7:15, cev) but he also says, ‘My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done … But we must keep going in the direction that we are now headed’ (Phil. 3:13-14, 16, CEV).

So next time you switch on a bulb in your house remember Thomas Edison and all his failures, the difficulties and the struggles that he had to overcome to become the man that he was to be. And next time you see a basketball, imagine Michael Jordan being gutted 26 times after missing his game-winning shot, when he was the best player in the world. That’s what hope is all about. Hope and failure are sometimes very close to each other, and we have to decide which one to go for… Christians believe God didn’t tell us that we would succeed easily and avoid suffering and failure; he just said that he would be there with us.

And that makes all the difference.