How do we go about preparing our hearts and minds for the new year? 

When I was young, I viewed the year as an open planner with 365 blank squares. Sure, I knew I’d have a vacation here and there. Some spaces would be filled with coffee dates with friends. Many of those squares had “teaching,” my day job, written in invisible ink.  

Maybe it’s got something to do with growing older and knowing the number of days behind me is greater than those before. I want to make the days I have left on this earth count for the Lord. 

My history with One Word

When a friend introduced me to the concept of focusing on one word for the year, the idea resonated in my heart. I love, love the thought of asking God for a word to walk out with Him through those 365 squares. 

People have lots of ways to discover their word. I have shared my process. However you find your word, I know God shows our hearts where we need to focus. Setting our focus on one word is a great for preparing our hearts for the new year.

My experience with Cling

My word for 2022 was Cling. Last month, a friend asked me, “How well have you lived that out this year?”

I hung my head when I answered, “Not very well.”

Backing up a bit, 2021 was a difficult year. I came to December with my insides twisted up in anxiety. God showed me I needed to CLING to Him. I set out to do just that. Gung ho to overcome anxiety once and for all. 

Only, as some of you know, that’s not how anxiety works. Rather, it’s often fueled by fear. So, I set out to trust God. I was going to trust God No. Matter. What.

But when our family went through a hard season, I found fear gripping the upper hand in my thoughts and my heart. 

Fear is only overcome by surrender. To Jesus. Trusting Him. Last autumn found me grappling with God as I learned how to trust Him on a deeper level. Did I live out CLING well? No.

But God’s grace poured over and into me as I faced my own weaknesses.

Preparing my heart and mind

As I prayed for my word for this year, God showed me what it needs to be. 

Pray

A verb. 

To pray is active. Intentional. It’s choosing to bring my authentic self to the Father—weak, scared, joyful, seeking, trusting—whoever I am in each moment. 

I’ve walked with Jesus for a long time. But prayer is an area where I need to grow. This year holds its own challenges, and I only know a few of them. 

Preparing Our Hearts for 2023—I’ve walked with Jesus for a long time. But prayer is an area where I need to grow. #tellhisstory #oneword #learntopray Click To Tweet

To pray requires me to lay my agendas, my fears, my hopes, my all into His hands. 

My verse for the year

The verse I sense God wanting me to study and live out this year is:

Meme with the words: “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear your name.” ~Psalm 86:11, NKJV This verse helps in preparing our hearts for listening to God in the new year.

Though this verse doesn’t have the word “pray” in it, this is my prayer. I want to know God’s ways, hear His wisdom in every situation I face this year. To walk in His truth, not my own . . . especially in the hard seasons. I yearn to have a heart united with Him, revering Him, not divided with fear or lesser things.

Set my mind for the year

I believe God gave me this word because I’m going to need to learn how to live a life of prayer. To pray is to bring myself to the Lord with no veneers. When we pray we are asking—we’re trusting—God to work in our situations, in loved ones’ lives, in those wounded places of our lives. 

To pray is to surrender my will to His. The only way I can be an effective pray-er is to learn how to pray trusting God with each of these things . . . especially when His answers look different than I hoped. Even when He doesn’t answer in my timing.

 

Preparing Our Hearts for 2023—The only way I can be an effective pray-er is to learn how to pray trusting God with each of these things #tellhisstory #oneword #effectiveprayer Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Can I be honest and say I’m a little nervous about this word? But, even more, I have hungered for a closer relationship with the Lord. Learning how to pray will be an invitation to deeper intimacy with my Father. 

This is how I’m preparing my heart and mind as we walk into 2023. 

What about you? What’s your recommendation for preparing our hearts and minds for a new year? If you are a one word advocate, will you share your word in the comments?

*****

Update

In December, I mentioned some changes were coming to the Tell His Story link up. So . . . long story short, Lisa has some urgent, ongoing family concerns right now. She prayed and felt like God was encouraging her to step back from being my fellow hostess. So . . . I prayed, and God brought Donna Bucher from Serenity in Suffering to mind as a possible partner. After she prayed (don’t you find it a little funny God had all this praying going on and PRAY is my word for the year? 🙂 ), she accepted my invitation to join in hosting the THS link up. 

I’m so excited!

We will have a similar set up as before. I will host the first and third (and fifth) Tuesdays of the month. On the second and fourth Tuesdays, we’ll head over to Donna’s place and link up there.

Please welcome Donna!!!

Here’s a little bit about her:

Donna is a women’s ministry leader, teacher, speaker, retired missionary, CASA volunteer, experienced counselor and hospice and palliative care support personnel. Founder of Serenity in Suffering blog, where she shares articles, resources and counseling designed to help you grow personally and find spiritual intimacy with Christ; ultimately finding purpose in the trials you face. 

Her writings have appeared in various online sites as well as digital and print magazines, and devotional journals. 

Donna’s website can be found at Serenity in Suffering. You may want to bookmark this so it’s handy for linking up. 😊

Come share your story at the Tell His Story linkup. Connect and be encouraged by like-minded friends! #tellhisstory #linkup Click To Tweet

Most weeks, I link up with Grace and Truth, Anita Ojeda, Instaencouragements, and sometimes Let’s Have Coffee. Come join and read more encouraging posts!

Each week we gather here as storytellers, word weavers, and encouragers to make His name known. Our story is God’s story and this small corner of the blogging world, where we come together each Tuesday, needs you. This is a place where poetry, snapshots, prayers, and stories find a safe spot to nod in agreement that what we have to say matters. I am glad you are here and would love to have you join the #TellHisStory community. Add your own encouraging post through the link below. Spread some love by visiting your neighbor and leaving your own encouragement. Click over here to read more about the #TellHisStory community and find a button to add to your site.

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