Happy New Year! I wonder what your aims are for 2024.

Perhaps, drop a few pounds? Learn a new skill? Stay out of trouble?

Pete Grieg recently posted about the pastor and author of “The Message” Eugene Peterson’s aim for life. His life ambition, according to his biographer, was not to be a great pastor or talented translator. It was not even to be a good husband and father but to “become a saint”. Not in the sense of one canonised by the Vatican and venerated in plaster-cast by ordinary mortals like you and me. But someone who embodies the life of Jesus in a genuine and compelling way.

Pete Greig confesses:

“Increasingly I’m drawn to those who are more committed to kindness than correctness, gentleness than power, humility instead of all those other, more obvious kinds of success. I admire leaders who care less about leadership than they do about living well: being self-effacing, quickly apologising, consistently prayerful, often smiling, half-decent human beings”.

Now that is a target to make a priority for 2024!

We will kick off the new year with a Sunday morning series “Vital breath, living in the Lord’s prayer”. Prayer is formational and none less so than the prayer Jesus gave his disciples. Living in this prayer pushes and pulls us into conformity to Jesus, and forces us to address our priorities, our agendas and limits, our relational health and spiritual conflict. It’s a prayer that prayed and lived will make us everyday saints. It covers so much. Our spiritual and emotional wellbeing, our relational health as well as our concerns for the world.

Commentator Willie Barclay describes the Lord’s prayer as helping us to “take all of life to all of God, and all of God to all of life”.

This prayer given to followers of Jesus gives us a simple, memorable and even mobile spiritual exercise that stretches our souls and extends our spiritual muscle. Used as a framework to build our prayers on and to orient our lives around the priority of God our Father and his kingdom these phrases build a deep spirituality and life. In it, we work in concert with the Spirit to allow God to create in us what Thomas Merton describes as

“That marvellous spontaneity in which His life become perfectly ours and our life His, and it seems inborn in us to act as His children and to have been light shining out of our eyes.”

Now that’s a prayer to be livin’ on, and in! this year.