Many years ago I attended a New Year’s Eve service at a small Methodist church near Athens, Georgia. They were holding a Covenant Service; this service was written by John Wesley in 1755 to encourage people to regularly re-state their commitment to the Lord.
This service has been very important to me over the years. When Olga and I started building our relationship, I told her about it. And on our wedding night, we went through this service together. It is a foundation of our marriage. And as individual disciples of the Lord, it is a foundation of our walk with Him.
The service begins with a prayer for purity, and continues with worship, thanksgiving, confession of sin, asking of forgiveness, and then the assurance that our sins are indeed forgiven, in Christ. After this time of preparation, the service has a wonderful final prayer:
THE COVENANT (spoken by the minister)
And now, beloved, let us bind ourselves with willing bonds to our covenant God, and take the yoke of Christ upon us.
And taking this yoke upon us means that we are heartily content that he appoint us our place and work, and that he alone shall be our reward.
Christ has many services to be done.
Some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honor, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and temporal interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.
Yet the power to do all things is assuredly given us in Christ, who strengthens us. Therefore, let us make the covenant of God our own. Let us engage our heart to the Lord, and resolve in his strength never to go back.
Being thus prepared, let us now, in sincere dependence on his grace and trusting in his promises, yield ourselves anew to him.
THE COVENANT PRAYER
O Lord God, holy Father, who has called us through Christ to be partakers in this gracious covenant; we take upon ourselves with joy the yoke of obedience, and engage ourselves, for love of you, to seek to do your perfect will. We are no longer our own, but yours.
Here let the minister and the people unite in saying:
I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with who you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you or laid aside for you; exalted for you or brought low for you; 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 your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
The service then ends with worship and thanksgiving.
The final prayer has been very, very meaningful to us over the years. The Lord Himself said on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” So also each of us should daily commit our spirits into the loving hands of our Father in heaven.