“Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
If the prayer below captures in some way the deep longings of your heart, I invite you to join me in making it a prayer for 2014.
O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
When John the Baptist made the beautiful declaration in the text above about your Son’s public prominence eclipsing his, it completed his joy! His joy was full! And we know that this was only possible because in the secret place, where no one else saw, your Spirit disciplined him until he no longer trusted or acted on any selfishly ambitious impulse and the desires of his heart were aligned with yours.
This is our desire too. Jesus must increase and we must decrease. To that end, we make this prayer to you as we begin this new year:
Increase our love for you as the greatest treasure of our hearts and decrease any idolatrous love of lesser things.
If this doesn’t happen we will be idolaters and our lives will be governed by fear of losing our gods. But we want no gods before you (Exodus 20:3)! And if we love you with all our being (Luke 10:27) we will lose nothing! We will only ever gain! Help us to return to our first love (Revelation 2:4)! Do whatever it takes this year to increase our love for your Son, Jesus Christ, until he is truly all (Colossians 3:11).
Increase our trust in your promises and decrease our trust in our perceptions (Proverbs 3:5–6).
If this doesn’t happen we will let our circumstances dictate our actions. And they are tyrants. But if we really believe what you promise us, we will be “free indeed” (John 8:36)! There is no greater apologetic in this world than a Christian who really believes (Hebrews 11:6). That’s what we want to be. Do whatever it takes this year to help us walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Increase our passion for Jesus’s reputation and decrease our passion for our own.
If this doesn’t happen our witness will be hesitant, timid, or non-existent. We will be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16) and that may lead to Jesus being ashamed of us when he returns (Mark 8:38). No, Father! But if we love your Son’s glory more than ours we will find the freedom in witness and God-displaying works that we long for and we will see people come to Christ (2 Timothy 1:8) and we will labor so that the nations will be glad (Psalm 67:4)! Do whatever it takes this year to increase our love for Jesus’s glory!
Increase our faith in your power and willingness to provide our material needs and decrease our fear-fueled efforts to financially secure our futures.
If this doesn’t happen we will not sacrificially give to see the Great Commission fulfilled, our local churches amply funded, nor will we move to places in our cities or the world where the gospel is most needed. And we may prove to not know Jesus at all because we won’t minister to him by serving the least of his brothers (Matthew 25:40). But if we really believe Philippians 4:19 and learn the secret of being content with what you provide in every circumstance (Philippians 4:12–13), not only will your Son’s kingdom receive a surge of resources, but the faith manifested in them will overcome the world in a thousand ways (1 John 5:4)! Do whatever it takes this year to set us wonderfully free from any bondage to serving money and let us know the joy and freedom of radical generosity (2 Corinthians 9:8)!
Increase our sense of the reality of the resurrection and decrease our fear of death.
If this doesn’t happen, we will live in a plethora of fear and spend inordinate time and money on guarding our health. But you crushed your Son (Isaiah 53:10) and raised him on the third day (Acts 10:40) to remove the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:55)! Death died in Jesus’s death (John 11:25-26)! Therefore, life really is Christ (John 14:6), and death is gain (Philippians 1:21). And if we believe that with all our hearts, we will be an unstoppable force for the gospel all over the world! Do whatever it takes this year for us to live more in the freedom of the resurrection!
Yes, Father! Jesus must increase! Jesus must increase! We must decrease! If Jesus increases and we decrease, our joy, with John the Baptist’s, will be full!
So this is our prayer for 2014: increase our love for you, our trust in your promises, our passion for your Son’s glory, our faith in your provision, and the realization of the reality of our resurrection.
We pray this in the name of Jesus, with the deep desire that he may be glorified more in us this year than ever before, amen.