The day after Christmas is a great time to reflect on the past year and to look ahead. While we’re enjoying some leftover ham, many take the time to pause and evaluate their life—namely, our goals.
New Year’s resolutions are a tradition for many people – some research suggests that 48% of people make some sort of resolution; however, only 8% end up keeping them.
Because goals without a plan are dreams.
Dreams aren’t bad. Dreams help us create a vision for our future, and dreaming is the first place we should start. But we can’t stop there. We need to turn our dreams into goals, and our goals into small, actionable steps that move us toward big change
So what do you want to accomplish or become this year? This year doesn’t have to be like previous years. Give yourself permission to dream about what the future could hold.
At this time each year I evaluate my prayer life for last year and focus on setting goals in place for growing in the discipline of prayer for the new year.
For me, regardless of the season, I need to be intentional with my prayer life.
Prayer is an amazing privilege, but it’s also really hard work (the apostle Paul compares it to a wrestling match!)
I don’t have the answers to the struggles in ones’ prayer lives, but I want to share with you what I’ve been thinking about and what I’ve been reading to continue the process of developing a more intentional prayer life.
Today, as I write I am still contemplating what my prayer life might look like if I am going to be more intentional on an everyday basis when it comes to prayer. At this stage, it’s still very much trial and error, but I’m not going to give up.
So this post isn’t a “how-to” post. It’s a post rounding up ideas I have been pondering and contemplating as I brainstorm how to be intentional and make prayer a and ever greater priority in 2017.
If you’re looking for ideas to grow in personal prayer and be more intentional with your prayer life, then I pray that some of what I suggest will help and encourage you.
Let me start with what I already have in my prayer toolbox
I start with what has worked well for years. I love journaling. I have written my prayers out for many years. I learnt early in my journey that if I was to become more intentional in my prayers I had to write them down. I knew I needed a paper and pen method to keep me accountable. I get distracted to easy. Each morning I write my prayers to the Lord and note down the responses that are impressed upon my heart.
I read Scripture to compliment and encourage my prayer life
For many years I have read through various “Bible through the Year Plan’s” on a daily basis. This allows Scripture to become an important part of my time with the Lord each morning. I read the verses slowly and purposefully, allowing the Spirit to convict my heart and attitude toward prayer. What I learn humbles me.
I borrow from others
I seek out the prayers, thoughts, devotionals, insights of others to emulate and make my own. As I ask the Holy Spirit to help me pray, I have used examples to help turn my prayers into moments that truly glorify God.
An ongoing challenge into 2017 is to move my prayer life away from an unhealthy inward focus, to one that shows the love of Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)
What’s new in 2017
Using a Prayer app
Keeping up with prayer requests is hard for me. I’ve tried to keep a list of prayer, but I tend to get distracted by other things. To encourage and remind me to pray for the many prayer requests that God puts on my heart and in my life I’m going to install a prayer app on my android phone. PrayerMate and Echo (both for iOS and android apps) have appealed to me as efficient and effective apps. The other one I like is Prayer Notebook but it is only for iOS.
Creating a Prayer Notebook
If you’re anything like me, the biggest obstacles that keep me from praying is finding time to pray for those important requests when life gets busy. Due to my nature and interests, I think I’m going to try my hand at a prayer notebook.
Some areas in my prayer notebook I am considering are:
- In the very front of my notebook, I plan to put my personal mission statement. I’m a big advocate for determining my God-given mission statement. Why did God save me? What is my purpose?
- The first section of my notebook is Personal Evaluation. Each week, I want to complete a personal evaluation. This is taking one of my already established disciplines of listening and writing it down as an evaluation
- The next section is my Bible journaling. This is where I am daily in God’s Word writing what He’s revealing to me and teaching me through His Word.
- The next section is where I write down any answered prayer requests, evidence of everyday grace, and pretty much anything I am thankful for.
- The next section is my reading list. I love reading. But this year I want to change things up a bit. I want to be more intentional with my reading list. I’m not making a list of books to read. Instead I’m challenging myself to read twelve books on twelve different topics throughout the twelve months of the year. I will probably read more than twelve books this year.
- I’m probably most excited about this section. The prayer notebook is a daily tool, which means I needed a plan for all the “old material.” Hence the creation of the Archives. Over the years I reference material, studies, or the journal pages from past years. I want a way to save my notes into a reference. I think this archives section will help me to do this while keeping my daily notebook being focused on the NOW.!
- The final section is separated into two areas:
- I pray daily for my immediate family – the ones who live under my roof. I write specific prayer requests on each one, and
- Kingdom praying – Kingdom praying is simply making kingdom prayers a priority during our daily times of communion with God. It is putting God’s work ahead of my own needs and desires consistently. Each day I have different kingdom prayer topics i.e. local church, community, pray for the lost, extended family, nations and people groups. I still haven’t completed this part yet. However, I felt God saying “If you will handle My business before yours… then I will bless yours.”
An outcome I want to achieve from these goals is to discipline myself to make more time to spend with the Lord. It can’t all happen all at once so I am evaluating each day to create the time. This is another challenge for 2017.
I trusting the small steps taken at the beginning of the year will lead to big change in my relationship with God in 2017
I couldn’t end my first blog this year without pointing back to the main reason I am doing anything in this life, which includes blogging. Everything comes down to worshiping God, honouring the Lord Jesus Christ, encouraging one another and drawing others to Christ.
The Lord whispered in my heart reminding me of the one crucial component: My walk with God.
When we walk with God, when we are immersing ourselves in His love, His Word, drinking deeply in His delights, not only will we be filled, we will also refresh others.
May this be your goal for 2017.