The New Year is a great time to take stock of the past year and set goals for the next. Here’s a spiritual exercise to that end. (You will need one large candle and one small one.)
Begin by lighting the large candle, which represents Jesus, the light of the world. Read and think about these verses from the Bible:
“I [Jesus] am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”1
“You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”2
Use the big candle to light the small candle, representing you.
Take a few minutes to reflect on the past year. Take into consideration these three areas of your life: your work or studies, your home life and relationships with family and friends, and your personal life, which includes your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
What in the past year, in each of those areas, are you most thankful for? You might have many things in each area. Thank God for them. You may want to jot them down for future reference.
Then take a few more minutes to reflect on the coming year. In terms of those three areas of your life, what are your prayers or aspirations for the coming year? Write those things down, either as a personal prayer or in point form, so you will have them to refer to as the year progresses and be reminded to thank God as He answers your prayers (and for next New Year’s exercise).
With a few simple modifications, this exercise can also be done with family or friends:
Light the large candle, read the Bible verses aloud, and briefly discuss them.
Take a few minutes for everyone to think about and write down the things they are most thankful for from the past year, then a few more minutes for everyone to formulate their prayer for the coming year. (Or with advance notice, everyone can prepare their list ahead of time and take as much time for reflection as they like.)
Then, as you go around your circle, each person lights their small candle and reads or explains to the others what they are most thankful for in the past year and what their prayer is for the new one.