Starting Your Year Right

Like a sparkling landscape freshened with pristine snow, a new year beckons.

Inherently, I yearn to link arms with the Lord and come into agreement with His plans and purposes for me and my family for this year. I feel challenged to re-calibrate my heart and life. One of the ways I do this is to focus on some specific areas that will fine-tune my heart.

The first thing I do is choose my Bible reading plan for the year. I usually start thinking about this at the beginning of December, and typically this changes from year to year. In 2011 I did something completely different and read through the entire New Testament three times. The year before that I read through the Bible chronologically. This year, I've decided to return to my favorite, the One-Year Bible. If you make the commitment now, you are declaring to the Lord (and yourself!) that His word is vital, and you are more likely to stay on target and filled with the truth and power of God's word all year long.

Next I choose a fast. Before you skip this section, let me assure you I am not sister super-Christian and do not delight in denying myself. But I'm convinced that the breakthroughs and successes God has brought in my life always begin in January, when I choose to make Him more important than food. I've come to think of it as a special date I wouldn't dream of missing. If you are unable to fast due to medical reasons, consider a different type of fast: a media fast (so-long, Facebook!), or a TV fast. You can also fast from sweets, coffee, or your absolute favorite foods only.

Then I pray specifically. As the new year dawns, I ask the Lord to:
  • Open the doors that He wants opened in my life, and close the doors He wants closed.
  • Orchestrate divine appointments, divine relationships, and divine opportunities.
  • Place the materials in my hands He wants me to have this year, be it books, CD's, magazine articles, whatever.
  • Establish all of my goals, causing my thoughts to become agreeable to His will.
  • Give me ears to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying.
This year, I've asked the Lord to show me one thing I can change to grow closer to Him. To my surprise, He's already done it. For 22 years I've read my Bible at night before bed. I always prayed in the morning, but I loved that my Bible was the last thing I saw before I went to sleep, and felt like His word marinated in my heart all night. That all began to change mid-year; my evenings have become less quiet and it became harder and harder to focus (never mind all the interruptions!). Last month I started reading my Bible in the morning, right after my prayer time, and I absolutely love it! To every thing there is a season.

Ask God to show you one thing to help you grow closer to Him this year. Like me, you may be surprised at His simple answer.

My New Year's Prayer for You!
I wish you a peaceful New Year. May you prosper and be in good health as your soul prospers. May the Lord be gracious to you and make His face to shine upon you. And may you hear His voice and sense His presence like never before in 2012.

Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)


Diane said...

LOVE your list. Very practical and helpful. Happy New Year!!! :O)

Bonita said...

This is awesome, Julie. I especially like the list of things you pray for the year. I do something similar, but in a much more general way. I ask God for a word or scripture or whatever He wants to give me to guide the year. This year's word is "completion" and I'm going to work on finishing things I've started in all areas of life.

Kimberly said...

I, too, love your list. Especially the list of things you pray for specifically. Divine appointments, divine relationships, and divine opportunities. And for Him to place the right resources in your hands. Had honestly never thought to pray for any of those!

Thanks so much for sharing, Julie!

Cheryl Barker said...

I love the reflection that a new year brings. May you have a peaceful year as well, Julie, and may His face ever shine upon you!

Stephanie Romero said...

I love hearing the different ways God speaks to hearts. What you shared is very practical. This year God has asked me to spend more time praying scriptures over people and situations. It's not that "my" prayers have been ineffective but I believe He wants them to be empowered through His Word.

Rachel Beran said...

Wow, I love all of this, esp your list of specific prayers. I need to come back to this tomorrow during my quiet time in the afternoon...and make some lists of my own. :)

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

That one thing... praying about mine. I love the practice of fasting, although mine falls in line with media, tv, and other areas of indulgence. Thank you for this prompt and for praying for all of us as the Lord brings us to mind. I appreciate your faithfulness to the Lord and your kindness as a friend.

God's peace to you in 2012!


Terri Tiffany said...

I have only fasted once but it was this past spring when I believe that our desires changed and we put ourselves more in line with what God wanted for our lives. He gave me Texas.
I love your priorities.

Leslie Basil Payne said...

Julie, thank you for this. I'm starting the New Year off a tired Word Chick and this was just what I needed.
Grace & Peace.

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