First off, I want to wish you a happy happy New Year!! It is always exciting to enjoy the first day of a brand new year!
I know that as we go into a fresh new year, we tend to bring a few resolutions as well. It’s like a clean slate, and a whole year of opportunity for growth and joy in our lives. Lots of times our resolutions may look something like being more successful or happy at our job, wanting to get married or have kids, wanting to hit the gym more (me), not eat so many sweets (again, me), wanting to be more organized and keep a cleaner house (you’ll never guess who…), etc., but what I have found in the past is that what I really hope will come from all these resolutions is happiness and self improvement. Sometimes I think that if even just one of these resolutions would come true, I would be a happier and “better” person. I would enjoy life more.
Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately, a better year doesn’t rest in any of those things. No matter how many of my resolutions come true, they won’t actually bring me true joy. All of those things above, while they may be good things to do, won’t necessarily bring me more joy. Thankfully, that means that even if we don’t get that job promotion or if we accidentally eat a few more sweets than we wanted… our joy isn’t dependent on those things. They are actually all counterfeits of TRUE joy.
If you’re curious how you can truly have the best year yet in 2016, and can’t wait for me to tell you, 🙂 here it is…..A deeper relationship with the One who created you will certainly bring you joy and a great year*. In fact, He is the author and creator of joy!!! It is only in Him that we find TRUE joy!! Which means that no matter what takes place in 2016, we can still have a great year because we will ALWAYS have access to God through Jesus!!! And all of our resolutions and great things for this year stem from having a personal relationship with Him. He makes our resolutions possible, and He
“works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” ~Romans 8:28.
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” ~Psalm 16:11
Below I am going to list a few practical things you can do to help improve your prayer life and spend more time with the Lord. I personally always love to get more ideas on how to spend some good quality time with God, so I thought I would share some with you. My challenge to you this year is to spend just 10 minutes out of the 1,440 minutes you get in a day, praying to your Heavenly Father and reading His life-giving Word. This isn’t so that God will love you more; His love for us is not based on works but faith, (feel free to read more about it in the Gospel Here) but for our own sake and for the sake of living our lives for Jesus because of what HE has done, this is a great way to do just that 🙂 Start with something that’s achievable to you, and then go from there. You can replace that 10 minutes on Social Media (I’m speaking to myself here) with time spent with God. I PROMISE you you will see a huge difference in your life. I PROMISE you that you will start to get that TRUE joy in your life, and that emptiness you may feel in your heart will disappear. I’m speaking from personal experience here! The only thing and the only one that can fill up that hole in your heart is Jesus and His perfect LOVE for you! Pretty soon those 10 minutes will feel like 10 seconds!
So, here are a few things you can start with in those 10 minutes 🙂
- First, I would go into a room in your home (I use our guest bedroom), to free yourself of any distractions and close the door to spend your time with God. I set an alarm on my phone to get ready so I do have my phone in the room with me but I keep it on silent and face down so I won’t be tempted to get distracted 🙂 There is no one magical place to pray, but the Bible says this:
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” ~Matthew 6:6
- I like to start off my time praying before I get in the Word because it puts my mind back on God and helps me to rid my mind of distractions. I really like to journal my prayers, and also like to pray out loud. I also like to pray that God would help me to understand the Scripture I read, and that He would give me wisdom and lead me in my time spent with Him that day.
- I love this “Pray” Acronym that Priscilla Shirer wrote in her book Fervent (pg. 22-23):
- P: Praise. Thanking God for who He is and what He has done is so important! As Priscilla says, “His name and His fame are the only reasons any of this matters.”
- R: Repent to Him sins that come to mind, with “the courage to trust, and turn, and walk His way.” This is something I really want to work on and do more, because it helps me to see my need for Him and helps me to appreciate what Jesus did on the cross to pay for that sin. Through repenting, I also want to pray for God to help me hate my sin more.
- A: Asking. “Make your requests known. Be personal and specific […] You’re not begging; you’ve been invited to ask, seek, and knock. God’s expecting you. He’s wanting you here. the best place to look is to Him.”
- Y: Yes. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!'” “So allow your prayer to be accentuated with His own words from Scripture, His promises to you that correspond to your need.” To find Scripture that corresponds with your needs, you can look in the Index in your Bible, and also use Google!
- Write prayers for yourself and loved ones on separate pieces of paper and stick them to your wall. Write a prayer for your home, and also anything you may be struggling with. Lately I have been struggling with fear, so I just spent some time looking up lots of Scripture on fear (through looking at topics in the back of my Bible and also using Google!) and wrote them all down and posted it to where I can see it and pray over it whenever I get fearful!
- Listen. Just be still and listen for God. You probably won’t hear an audible voice in your room, but He will speak to your heart and bring Scripture to your mind!
- Pray for Faith to not doubt the power of what God can do with your prayers! He is ALL Powerful. He can and will do the impossible!!
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us” ~Ephesians 3:20
- So I have not read through the whole Bible yet, but I really want to! I have started the One Year Bible plan so many times but never make it to the end because I get so far behind, and I don’t always pay attention to what I read because I can get so focused on checking off that I’ve read it! So what I do now is I’m going through the New Testament straight through (and then I will go through the Old Testament and alternate between the Old Testament and the Gospels) and just go as far as I go each day. I don’t have a specific plan or agenda as to how many verses or chapters to read, because I want to take my time to look up reference verses and commentary to really understand what I’m reading! But I think what I’m going to start doing today(!), is continue to do that in the mornings, and then at night read the One Year Bible plan chapters before I go to sleep so that I still read the Bible in a year, but dig deep with what I read in the mornings!
- In order to better pray for my husband, besides praying for specific things he may be going through, I am going through the book, Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian, which is an increeeedddible book so far!!! I highly recommend it. It has a prayer and Scripture to back it up for literally every single aspect of your husband’s life!! So that’s something you can do during your prayer time too 🙂
- I loved how in War Room, Mrs. Clara had framed her “Answered Prayers”! I want to make a sheet of Answered Prayers to look at and remember God’s goodness and faithfulness and power that He has already shown me in my life!
- Speaking of prayer lists, I also like how in War Room, Elizabeth made a list of top things to pray for that were going on at the time. Just one sentence prayer requests!
- I am reading a few books right now for Bible Studies, but I realized that if I just read the books for my quiet time I get super drained and not filled up. So before I start reading my Bible Study books, I make sure I read Scripture and pray first because I’ve got to be fed straight from Jesus and His word to get filled!
Well, I think that’s about all I got right now!! I hope this helps you and gives you a couple things you can start doing where you spend time with Jesus :). I do want to make sure to tell you to not feel guilty or like God is mad at you if you skip a day! It can be so easy to get legalistic about our time with God. He loves you despite how many minutes you have spent with Him that day, but I will tell you that your relationship with Him will grow sweeter and sweeter the more time you spend with Him! And then everything else on your resolution list will just fall into place. The more we rely on Him, surrender every part of our life to Him, and seek Him, He will guide you where He wants you to go, and will carry you through whatever you may face in 2016!! He is ALWAYS with you!!! He wants YOU!! I pray that we will CLING to Jesus and abide in Him more this year than ever before 🙂 and just get ready for an incredible 2016 because of it!!
P.S. I would LOVE to hear from you guys sharing what you really like to do in you your quiet times!! So please feel free to comment below!! I would love to know what you do!!
Grace and Peace to You and this New Year! 🙂
*I want to take a quick second to clarify that joy does not equal happiness. Our society uses the two words interchangeably, but happiness is a fleeting euphoric feeling, while true Biblical joy is a much deeper contentment through both the good and the bad in life. This true joy can only come through Christ.