Personal Devotions: Watch Night / New Year’s Eve

A glass angel Christmas ornament

Photo: Anne Hoganson

Many Christian traditions have Watch Night services, where communities gather to pray, reflect, and renew their covenant with God before the start of the new calendar year. For people of African descent who were brought to the Americas via slave ships, Watch Night is a particularly meaningful day. People are said to have gathered the night before to await Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1862.

Choose one or more of these prayers to pray daily this week.

Scriptural Prayer

Memorize this scripture:

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)


What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover God has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. (Ecclesiastes 3:9–13)

Breath Prayer

(breathe in) Our Sovereign, (breathe out) How majestic is your name in all the earth!

 The Prayer of Jesus

The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili (Wendy Gichuru)

Graces and Blessings

How do you hope to improve or enhance your spiritual health this year? What steps can you take to deepen your relationship with Jesus? How do you grow closer to people in your life whom you love? One way to strengthen your spiritual health is to develop a rule of life, which is sort of like a guideline or goal for your daily behaviour. Many have attributed a rule of life from the writings and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. (particularly from his instructions to demonstrators). This rule includes things like: meditate daily on the teaching and life of Jesus, walk and talk in the manner of love, and seek to perform regular service for others and the world. What would be included in your Rule of Life?

Create your own rule and place it somewhere prominent so that you are reminded of it every day.

May you carry the blessings of Christmas with you throughout the year. In God’s world, we can all find our way!

Alydia Smith is Program Coordinator, Worship, Music, and Spirituality for The United Church of Canada.