Shortly after the tsunami disaster in late December, I received an email from Ramesh Richard, a professor at Dallas Seminary. He said that he had been praying what he called a "frightening" prayer: "Lord, do things I'm not used to." As soon as I read those words, I knew that should be my prayer for 2005. I think that's an excellent prayer for all of us. It's easy to pray for our own agenda to come to pass: "Lord, make all my dreams come true." But you move into a different realm when you say, "Lord, I want to move beyond the normal, the ordinary and the expected. My agenda represents my own understanding of the future, but you may have other things in mind. So please do things I am not used to."

I ended up writing my own personal prayer for the New Year:

Lord, do things I'm not used to in 2005. Move me out of my comfort zone so that I won't rely so much on my own plans and my own power. Open the eyes of my heart so that I will comprehend the vastness of your love. And slow down my frantic life so that I can discover those things that matter most. Put me in a place where I am not equal to the opportunity so that I am forced to lean on you in a new way. This is my prayer for the New Year. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Since then we've been to China to visit our oldest son Josh, who is teaching English in Beijing for a year. God used that experience to reframe our family's agenda. This summer Nick is going to China for six weeks. In August, Mark is going to China for a year. Suddenly China has become very important to the Pritchard family. We have books about China stacked on an end table in our living room, and we have some beautiful banners with Scripture verses hanging at home and in my office here at church. I'm following the news about China almost every day and trying to learn all I can.

I smile as I write this because for the first 15 years of my ministry at Calvary, no one can remember me mentioning China. Now I see China everywhere.

My real point is not about China. It's about the prayer I started praying. It's a bit scary to invite the Lord of the universe to rearrange your carefully planned life. But he's God. He can do it with or without your permission. There are times when we need to be shaken out of our complacency and moved into a new realm of uncertainty, faith, and anticipation to see what God will do next.

2005 is one-fourth over. Have you prayed that prayer yet?


To sign up for Pastor Ray's free weekly sermon email list, click  here. You can find his daily weblog, online sermons, travel schedule, and other resources at www.keepbelieving.com. You can write Pastor Ray at   raypritchard@calvarymemorial.com.