walter-richardson“ Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” ~ Psalm 25:4, 5 (NIV)

In 1953 Doris Akers penned the words of a song that would become thematic in my home church.  “I am weak and I need Thy strength and power, to help me over my weakest hour. Let me through the darkness Thy face to see. Lead me, oh Lord, lead me!”  I can hear Brother Roosevelt Leggett singing in his powerful tenor voice, “Lead me, guide me along the way. For if you lead me I cannot stray!”  There would be no resolutions made on Watch Night Service. But members and visitors would give brief testimonies of victories and accomplishments for the past year. Then around 11:45pm the lights in the sanctuary would be cut off one by one as testimonies would now be overtaken with the congregation individually praying aloud. Prayers of thanks, and prayers of expectations. Then just before the New Year rang in, all of the lights were shut off until the appointed timekeeper would signal for the light controller to turn on all the lights. The old year concluded with prayer, and the New Year began with prayer.

Most people want to start the New Year off right, with fresh starts, and new beginnings. And resolutions are expressed, goals are set, and promises are made each year.  According to reports, the 10 top resolutions made each year are spending more time with family and friends, getting in physical shape, losing weight, quitting smoking, enjoying life with less stress,  quitting drinking, getting out of debt, learning something new, helping others, and getting organized But according to Christian pollsters, not very many people ask for the Lord’s guidance when making resolutions.

David had not requested the Lord’s guidance as much when he became successful after being appointed the king. He eventually gained wealth, but lost regard for others respect for himself. David even lost control of his family life, and his oldest son Absalom rebelled against him greatly. His circumstances were dire, and he hardly knew which way to turn, so he turned to Jehovah God. As he discovered that his path moving forward would be filled with more trials, troubles, and terror, he meditated and wrote a prayer which is Psalm 25.

Psalm 25 is so powerful that it is memorized for use in many Jewish worship services. There are 22 verses in this prayer that form what is known as an acrostic; each verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet to facilitate memorization and recitation. There are only ten such scriptures in the entire Bible.

Psalm 25 covers the agonies and ecstasies expected this year. Already we seem to be suffering from contagious societal illnesses. Many of the problems and challenges we are facing in 2015, whether financial, communal, or political ….are the result of human greed, and arrogance. There is recession, which of course is economic sickness. There is a digression in good manners, sound judgment, and critical thinking. There is general blatant indiscretion in daily conduct. Even public expression is conveyed through vulgarity and violence. There is the growing obsession with power, prestige, and possessions. There is the noticeable suppression of voices that advocate for the dispossessed and disinherited. There are unapologetic transgressions even from the informed, and then there is aggression in political arenas. We need to be led and guided along the paths of life. Our steps need to be ordered by the Lord.

Dear Lord, pardon us for trying to walk ahead of you. We stop now, so that you may train us, and teach us. Then show us, lead us, guide us, and protect us. We thank you in advance for all things! Amen

Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com