How will you be intentional about the next 365 days?
As we close another year and start a new one, there’s much to thank God for, process, pray over, and anticipate. Over the past few years, I’ve found a useful (and quick) way to journal these thoughts and prayers. And I hope it might be of help to you!
So grab your Bible, along with a pen and notebook, and find some time to be alone with the Lord, seeking his will and wisdom for the coming year.
Step 1: Begin with prayer.
Cover this time of thinking and journaling with dependent prayer. Ask God to help you, give you wisdom, and see his glory in Scripture (which you’ll open in a moment). Unless we abide in him, we can do nothing of eternal worth, today or any day (John 15). Take some time to praise and thank God for the previous year (even reviewing past journals), and ask for his Spirit to help you as you consider the future: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9).
Step 2: Choose a verse for the year.
What is one way you want to grow in Christlikeness this year? What’s one sin you’d like to fight? Is there an attribute of God you would like to study more deeply? Choose a verse to guide the coming days, a Scripture you will memorize and meditate on regularly.
Step 3: Write a prayer to God.
Using the verse you chose as a guide, compose a prayer to God. Apply the Scripture through adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication; and ask him to be at work powerfully in the coming months, for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Step 4: List some specific prayers for this year.
Now, under the umbrella of the prayer you just wrote, make a list of specific prayers and petitions you’ll regularly ask God to answer this year. For example, ask:
- For the salvation of a person you love
- For growth in a specific area of holiness
- For direction on a decision
- For provision in a particular area (job, finances, etc.)
- For healing of an ailment or a relationship
I love looking back at previous years’ lists to see how God has been faithful to answer certain prayers; and for those that seem unanswered, I’m motivated to keep praying, asking God for eyes to see his grace and mercy in the “no’s” and “waits.”
Step 5: List some goals for this year.
Finally, set before the Lord some specific goals you’d like to work toward. We never want to be presumptuous, for only God knows the future (James 4:13–17). But if we approach these with a humble heart before God (“if the Lord wills”), motivated by love for Jesus and the spread of his glory, our goal-setting is pleasing to him. Ultimately, he will decide if those goals are met, so we can rest in his sovereignty even as we strive for aims that honor Christ.
Here are a few of my goals from past years:
- Invite a friend to study the Bible.
- Read 25 books.
- Finish writing my current book and turn in the manuscript on time.
- Memorize Scripture with my kids.
- Take weekly and quarterly times of refreshment.
- Pursue friendships and date my husband.
I hope this template encourages you to prayerfully consider what this year might bring, and to live intentionally before God by making the best use of the time.
Happy New Year, and Soli Deo Gloria!