I heard it on the radio three years ago in the spring. The host talked about choosing a word to focus on throughout the year. Her testimony on how God was teaching and growing her through this focus was powerful.
“What a great idea I thought”, but it was May… too late for me this year and so I tucked it away as something I might think about for next year.
I sort of forgot about the whole thing until December rolled around and I remembered what I tucked away in the back of my mind months earlier. I asked God for a word and He answered.
For several years now we’ve been practicing the spiritual discipline of asking God for one word for the year. A word He wants to use to teach us something central to our faith.
I confess, I approached the first year with a bit of skepticism and ambivalence. It just didn’t seem like it was for me. But I prayed:
God, if You want to give me a word, I’ll receive it.
The prayer was tossed out without much expectation. Yet, in a few moments, a word came to mind. Obedience.
Not a very inviting word. A hard word. My flesh crawled, thinking I must be failing Him on so many levels. But what He taught me during that year, turned my understanding of what it means to obey upside down. Obedience to Him is an act of friendship and He called me His friend. Very humbling.
I continue to pray the same prayer each year: Lord, if You have a word for me this year, I’ll receive it. My follow up words have been: Journey, New, Freedom.
The words I’ve received have opened my eyes to what He’s up to in the world and what He wants for me. As I consider the four words He’s given so far, I see how they string together.
Obedience to Him is a journey into a new life of freedom.
The sister just recently asked, Do you have a word for the new year?
I hadn’t thought about it, but her question prompted me to pray again: Lord, do you have a word for me?
And Yes He does have a word for me for 2017. A word which He’d already been speaking to me about: Light.
The first year I asked God to reveal a word for me. I was beyond excited about the word He brought to mind. I had my friend paint a sign for me and hung it on the front door to remind me each day of my word as I left the house.
The second year I asked God for a word, I heard… Enough. It was a year of wrestling. The year God revealed my biggest struggle, and when the new year rolled around I was glad to ask God for a new word. I was ready to leave all the enough stuff behind me. I was looking forward to something new and fresh. I had had enough with… enough.
As I prayed for a new word I heard God whisper into my heart… Enough. What? Are you kidding me… another year with the same old word! There are thousands of words in the English language God… please… pick another. Weeks went by and I tried to think of other words, even considered a synonym for enough, but in the end I bowed my head and whispered, “Because you say so… I will.”
Two years now with the same word. It feels like I’m a bit of a failure… like I didn’t get the teaching, or I missed something the first go ’round. But this is not about failing. This thing I have with enough runs deep, like all the way back to my childhood deep and it has taken me two years to grasp all the ways I’ve lived “not enough.”
I knew early on, from the beginning of last year, what my word for 2017 would be. You guessed it… Enough.
In the morning quiet as I contemplated another year with enough another word came to mind. And as I whispered the two words out loud together my whole world stood still.
I think of the first year, the first word God gave me… Presence. And it all falls into place.
Open enough to live fully in His presence.
We hope you’ll consider seeking Him this year for a word to focus on. Have in the background of your walk with Him. To see what He wants to reveal to you. The process is easy:
- Pray: Do You have a word for me?
- Write it down. Post it somewhere you see it regularly.
- Ask Him for a Scripture to go along with your word.
- Ask Him to teach you what He wants you to know.
- Begin listening.
You might even start a journal with your one word for the year. When He blesses you with a word, consider sharing it with us here by leaving a comment on this post. [Scroll to the bottom of the post and click Leave a comment.]
If your looking for more in depth instruction and understanding on this spiritual discipline there’s a book available: My One Word by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen. The book includes a discussion guide, so think about gathering some sisters and encouraging one another in seeking Him for one word for 2017.
We look forward to seeing your words for the new year!