A way to celebrate New Year’s Eve or a new beginning with prayer is to attend a Watch Night Service where we dedicate ourselves to God’s work in the coming year. A prayer commonly used during this service is from John Wesley’s Covenant Service. John Wesley, who is the founder of Methodism begins the prayer composed in 1780 like this, “I am no longer my own,but thine…”
The History of Watch Night Services
John Wesley started the tradition of Watch Night Services on New Year’s Eve in 1740. Today in Watch Night services Christians gather to commemorate the ending of the old year with reflection and confession and to welcome the New Year with a renewed dedication to God.
In African American churches in the U.S., Watch Night services took on a new meaning in 1862 because the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves issued by Abraham Lincoln was set to go into effect on January 1, 1863. Reportedly slaves gathered in churches on New Year’s Eve, awaiting the midnight proclamation of their freedom.
Here is John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer that can be used in a group or individually as a New Year’s prayer.
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.