How to Choose your Word for the Year: A guide on Listening Prayer
Do you choose a word for the year?
This wasn't a normal practice for me until I graduated college. I began to see the significance of a new year once I got married, because together, my husband and I would reflect on our past year, and our hopes, dreams and prayers for the next one.
I was never that into setting goals but my enneagram 3 husband loves goal setting.
He shared with my some of his past goals from over the years and had documented all of them down in a journal. I thought it was so sweet how he had a goal like "get engaged" handwritten in a journal, and that year would pass, and then he'd revisit his journal and reflect on what God did with that goal or dream. (Spoiler alert: we got engaged that year...)
I saw how valuable it can be to cast a vision for the year with the help of the Lord, put it down on paper, and then move on it through prayers and actions throughout the year.
Setting a word for the year is an even more specific version of this concept. Some people pick a word they want to focus on for the coming year, and others pick a word based on their hopes and dreams for the coming year.
Personally, I like to set aside time to pray and ask God for His word for the year for me.
Over the past few years I've been amazed and delighted to pray and ask God for a word for the year and then reflect on how He has moved through it in unexpected and incredible ways.
If this is unfamiliar to you or if you're looking for a little guidance, here are three easy steps to choose your word for the year!
1. Make Space for God to Speak
Listening to God in prayer is such an important part of our relationship with Him but often our days are full of distractions–little kids tugging on you, calendar notifications popping up on your iPhone, friends stopping by to chat.
To start the process of praying for your word for the year, start by making space for God to speak. There isn't a "one size fits all" for this. Notice what distracts you from hearing from God, and eliminate those distractions. If you are always tempted to clean the kitchen, go for a walk. If you can't help but peek at the notifications that keep popping up, turn off your phone.
Create a space where you can focus on God and what He has for you. Try lighting a candle, reading a psalm or spending a few minutes meditating in silence. Create a space that invites God to speak to you.
Then, listen. This might be the most difficult part. What I've learned over the years about hearing the Holy Spirit speak is not to over complicate it. As a follower of Jesus you have access to the Holy Spirit and can hear Him speak.
Because God is deeply personal, I think He speaks to us all in a variety of ways. Notice what He is drawing your attention to. You might want to write down anything that comes to mind during this time. You might see pictures or visions, or you might think of a song or a scripture. You might feel like the Lord brings a specific thought or emotion to mind.
He might simply give you the word for the year, or he might bring to mind a situation, circumstance, emotion, or picture that directs you to choose a word. Don't overcomplicate it and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you through this process.
3. Confirm you Word
Whenever the Lord speaks, I always look to the Word of God to confirm what I have heard. I think this is such a special part of the process, because it always increases my faith. I feel affirmed as I find evidence in God's Word for what I felt He spoke to me. This shows that God is constant, He is the same as He has always been and He won't ever speak anything that doesn't align with His Word.
This is also a great opportunity to take your word for the year to the Lord, and see what He has to say about that word. Where else has He mentioned it in scripture? Is there a specific passage the Lord might want you to be praying over the next year? Is there a person in the Bible who you really connect to in this specific way?
Ask God to lead you to verses & passages where your word for the year is used or that are similar to your word.
Now you have your word for the year!
You might want to use the word to guide your prayers, writing out specific prayers for the next year that you can follow up on in a year and reflect on what God has done.
This year, I'm releasing five journals that each have a specific word for the year on them! I'll be releasing a new journal weekly, make sure you're subscribed to get updates in your inbox. Current journals are available here.