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  • Grace B-P Contributor

A New Year's Prayer

By Rev Tan Eng Boo

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”  (Psalm 90:12 KJV)

Sometime ago, I took a macro photo of this cactus with two beautiful flowers growing on it at the Flower Dome of Gardens by the Bay. It is not often that one can see such beautiful flowers growing from a cactus, but there they were—the beauty of God’s creation. I am reminded of Genesis 1:31: 

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good….” 


But how long can the flower last? Some wither within a day, some survive for up to six weeks or more.

You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers” (Psalm 90:5, 6).

Like the flowers on this cactus, even as we enter 2024, we must always be prepared for the day when we will wither away from this earth.


The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)


Psalm 90 is written by Moses and it opens with a statement of faith (vv.1, 2). It goes on to expose the difficulties in holding onto it (vv.3-12), and ends (vv.13-17) by indicating the basis on which it rests. Take time to reflect on this chapter, but more importantly, ask God to teach us to number our days.


As W. Robert Godfrey describes it:

“We will never learn that lesson in our own strength. We are not only ignorant if left to ourselves, but we suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). We convince ourselves that we have a long time to live, and as long as we are healthy, we really believe that we will live forever in this body. We need a teacher, and the only teacher who can rescue us from ourselves is God.” (Ligonier Ministries)


Never make this mistake:

With his request approved, the CNN cameraman quickly used his cell phone to call the local airport to charter a flight. He was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport.


Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger. He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted, "Let's go!" The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off.


Once in the air, the cameraman instructed the pilot, "Fly over the valley and make low passes so I can get shots of the fires on the hillsides."


"Why?" asked the pilot.


"Because I'm a cameraman for CNN," he responded, "and I need to get some close up shots."


The pilot was strangely silent for a moment. Finally he stammered, "So, what you're telling me, is . . . you're not my flight instructor?"


We better have the right “instructor” to teach us to number our days. When God teaches us to number our days, we should be more prone to listen and seek Him for wisdom on how best to live our lives. We need God's wisdom to lead us now and onward into the life that is to come. In order for us to do so, we must take the first step to know Jesus Christ as Saviour. Do you know Jesus as your Lord and personal Saviour? Have you asked Him to come into your heart? (John 1:12). When we understand that our time on earth is limited—that our days are numbered—we begin to see the importance of living those days for God.


The meaning of "Teach us to number our days”:

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible Commentary on Psalm 90:12 teaches us the beautiful meaning: "Not merely to count them, how many they are, in an arithmetical way; there is no need of divine teachings for that... nor is this to be understood of calculating or reckoning of time to come - no man can count the number of days he has to live. The number of his days, months, and years, is with the Lord but is hid from him… But rather the meaning of the petition is, that God would teach us to number our days, as if the present one was the last. For we cannot boast of tomorrow, we know not but this day, or night, our souls may be required of us. But the sense is, that God would teach us seriously to meditate on, and consider, the shortness of our days. That they are but as a shadow… and to observe how unprofitably we have spent them, which may put us upon redeeming time, and also to take notice of the goodness of God, that has followed us all our days, which may lead us to repentance, and engage us in the fear of God." (Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship)


“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil”
(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

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