Each year I ask God for a word for the year. Just one word – no sentence, list, or paragraph – just one word! You may be thinking, “how can my whole year rest on just one word?”
It’s something that I’ve been doing for the last three years of my life and yes, I receive heaps of other words too, but this is more of a foundational word that I ask God for. It’s been so significant for my life that I want to share it with you.
My New Year word all started as a bit of fun for me; it was on my Discipleship Training School (DTS) here in Townsville, Australia a few years ago that one of my friends made the suggestion. Even though the thought of getting one word for the year excited me, I procrastinated because it sounded too difficult. When I finally drummed up the courage (on New Year’s eve, of course) to ask God for my word I was shocked at how quickly He responded. I knew it was Him as I had no idea what the word meant and even had to Google it!
As the years have turned, my understanding of why I seek a word for my year increases. What used to be a bit of fun (and still is!) is now turning into a beautiful journey with God. When He speaks it’s a gentle whisper between me and Him; His promise to me for the year. A moment of affection. In that moment my human brain naturally tries to jump ahead to what the word could mean and make a heap of assumptions in the space of about three seconds. I think about my future, relationships, and mostly things that concern just me.
As the year begins I can feel God smiling at me saying, “Just you wait!” He’s just as excited as me! When the word emerges for the first time, it’s never as I expected and continues to expand; just like a snowball rolling down a hill. It gets bigger and takes on more layers and involves more people the longer it rolls for.
You’ve probably heard the verse from the Bible, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
My word for the year is one of the ways which God renews my mind. Each year we all go through both good and bad circumstances, trials, and relationships… seriously, isn’t life just a bit of a rollercoaster?! What I’ve had to come to terms with recently is that each year trials will come. In the book of James it talks about ‘when’ trials come, not ‘if’. When we ask God for a word for the year it won’t change our circumstances but it gives us something tangible to grip on to when something comes up. The word becomes a foundation for your life, rather than a nice phrase. Your mind has had a year to soak in the word and crosses a new barrier – it’s renewed about who God really, really is! It also helps to give context in daily situations, sheds light on what we are to learn, highlights details to pay attention to, and most importantly fixes our eyes on Him. In our times of joy and refreshment the word can help us know how to absorb affirmation, navigate new opportunities, and make small and big decisions – it helps us know better how to bless others!
If one of your goals for 2016 is to know God more or to develop some foundations in your life – I would encourage you to pray for a word for the year. For more helpful tips on recognising God’s voice check out our blog post. Or, why not take a courageous step and do our life-changing Discipleship Training School.
Challenge – get your word of the year!
- Pray to God and ask Him for a word for the new year.
- When you feel like you know what it is, acknowledge it before Him, speak it out loud or write it down.
- Find a good friend and tell them about your word – challenge them to pray for a word too.
- Chat with each other regularly, asking about life in the context of the word of the year.
Rather than a regular New Year’s Resolution where we decide what our year is going to be like – why not let God choose instead?