How to Choose a Prayer Focus for the New Year
By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
As we enter a brand new year, we have the beautiful opportunity to choose where we want to invest our focus, efforts, and time. It can serve as an asset and tool to plan ahead for the year, and it can be a reminder when we get off track of where we want to circle back to or redirect ourselves as the days on the calendar pass through. When setting goals or aspirations for prayer focus specifically, we must invite the Holy Spirit to be our guide. He knows what is ahead for this year in every one of our lives.
Sit with The Lord
God wants to speak to you personally and intimately through His Holy Spirit. Jeremiah 33:3 offers us to "'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." In your life specifically, God can speak in many ways to guide and direct your path. However, when we come before Him to listen and be still before Him, we can experience a beautiful connection in our relationship with Him. Prayer is communication and conversation with God, and He will give you an understanding of what to pray for in focus for your year.
Don't Assume You Know the Answer
Don't limit God to predictability or place Him in a box. So often, we think that in our understanding, we already know what God will answer or say regarding a question or situation. Instead of relying on our logic, we can get out of our way to experience all that God has for us. Proverbs 3:5-6 offers, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, but in every way acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55), and when we stop trying to be our own Savior and stop placing our trust in what we can logic or determine, we can make way for the One True Savior to speak. The Lord can see every facet, angle, and part of the story in ways we cannot, and, as such, we can trust Him even when it may not make sense that following in His ways are best. When asking for a prayer focus for the year, do not limit Him to the knowledge you currently have or the circumstances you face. You might be surprised by what He offers to you to focus on.
Know Focus Can Expand or Contract
Prayer focus can also change over time depending on the season or circumstances that are relevant and specific to your life. God may give you a prayer focus that is to be built upon, and you will see over time how that expands from where it started in the beginning. Just as a tree begins as a seed and emerges over time, you may notice that the prayer focus He gives you takes new form and shape over time. In contrast, you may see where He takes a broad concept of prayer focus, such as patience or trust, and where specific situations provide a distinct and direct place where that prayer focus is used. Let God define what that focal point looks like in the correct season.
Document the Journey
It is wise to keep a journal or diary of the journey God takes you on throughout your focused prayer this year. Psalm 145:3 encourages us, "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands." We are called to remember what God has done and using a medium to document it is imperative so that we do not forget. It is easy when life gets hard for us to forget His faithfulness or how He has made a way in the past, and that is why we must remain diligent in keeping a good record of the journey. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land in the book of Joshua, they took twelve stones to erect a monument in God's honor. This monument was to serve as a reminder each time it was looked upon to remember what God had done miraculously but also to recall that He is a Good Father Who can make a way when there seems to be no way. When you look back over the year and how far you have come, it will be a gift to see how He took a word or concept and how it proved over and over again as a theme for the year.
Hope with Expectation
When entering into prayer, expect that God will bring forward all He has for you in His proper timing. If your prayer focus for the year from God is a goal or aspiration, you may find that it is not a quick process, but that does not mean it is not coming. Eccl. 3:11 shares, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." God has a specific timing for your life and a specific timing for the seeds He has placed within you. Do not let time doubt God's ability to bring forth His work.
Embarking on a prayer focus for the year is a wonderful endeavor, but it requires an open and obedient heart. We all have hopes, goals, or dreams for the year, but only what God plans will come to pass. Recall the words of Proverbs 16:9, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." Also, recall that when we agree and obey His plans and will, He has the best-case scenario for us. Even if the way seems tedious and lofty, He has a great purpose for your prayer focus and the journey marked before you. Nothing can thwart the plan of the Lord (Job 42), and His plans are for His glory and your benefit (Romans 8:28).
Thank You for the gift of prayer. We are so thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to commune with You, our Creator and Good Father. Help give the person reading this article today a clear and concrete word, phrase, or revelation of how to focus and hone in on what You have for them this year in prayer. Equip them with all that is necessary so that they can withstand whatever this year brings and sit with the firm knowledge that You are in control and on the Throne. We sit with great hope and expectation, Lord, that You will bring about Your plans in their lives and that it will prove a marvelous testimony of Your goodness and hand in life's journey.
In Jesus' name we pray,