My son asked me today about my New Year’s resolutions.
Weeell . . . I’m not really the resolution type. But I told him I do like the new year for new beginnings. For reevaluating, for seeing with fresh eyes, and finding some intentionality in things that can run away from me in the tyranny of the urgent.
I like creating rhythms in my life to celebrate, remember, and chew on what God has done—even the hard and gritty. So much about the way our culture does holidays seems to pull me from actually treating them as holy-days.
Somewhere in all the activity, it’s all too easy—like Martha in Luke 10—for my preparation for Jesus to actually keep me from Jesus. It takes me prying open space in my schedule to listen, in order to be fully present with God.
Like the seven Old Testament feasts God put in place, holidays can be a selah of sorts (that word you see in the Psalms: It means Stop. Think on this).
So maybe you still have a day or two of holiday time left. If so, I hope these prompts (designed for “prinking” over—that’s praying and thinking) can help breathe some fresh air into your soul for the next year.
Maybe you won’t know all the answers to these, and they will need to rattle around in your head awhile—and that’s okay! You don’t need to be a slave to this list and do every item. But don’t miss an opportunity to sit and listen for what God might want to say to your heart as you begin a fresh new year!
1. What’s one attitude, behavior, or personal snare I want to put off this year with renewed commitment?
Need some ideas? Start here: If I asked people, what would they honestly answer is the most destructive habit in my personal relationships? Am I as convinced as they are that this is a problem?
Or, do I know my “pet idols” right now (see Romans 1:25 and Psalm 115:1-8)? What’s something that’s so precious or important to me that it has become disordered? (David Powlison’s X-ray Questions are great for this.)
2. Who is one person I can choose (perhaps choose again) to forgive?
Does a certain person come to mind when I read verses about enemies (Luke 6:27, Proverbs 24:17, Matthew 4:43-45)? Or, what have been some of my most painful interpersonal experiences this last year?
What are my gut-level responses, and what’s one healthier way I could respond in personal conflict?
3. What’s one practical relational goal I could shoot for in order to love better this year?
Maybe it’s remembering names. Listening better. Being more of an emotional safe place for people. Choosing not to be defensive. Practicing hospitality. Attempting to serve someone else x times a month. Nixing the workplace gossip. Getting relentless about sexual integrity. (See Galatians 5:6, James 3:9-10, Romans 12:9-21.)
Start by praying: Lord, what is one way I could love you and your people radically this year?
4. What’s one spiritual discipline I could explore this year?
Is there something I could fast from? Is there a way I could simplify my closet, my schedule, or my diet? Can I build in healthy Sabbath habits, so it’s a day dedicated to knowing God and resting? Could I develop a gratitude journal, or begin regularly praying with and for friends?
What do I wish my time with God looked like, and what could I do to make my time with Him—and my affections—more from the heart? (See Psalm 119:10.)
5. What am I most grateful for in this past year?
Challenge yourself to make a list of at least 50! Then thank God for each one. Take time to write a handful of thank you notes to people who’ve impacted you this year, and may not realize just how much.
If you’re going through a tough season, challenge yourself to record 10 ways you’ve seen God’s kindness in all of the tough places. (See Psalm 16:5-11.)
6. How would I describe where I’m at as I start this new year?
What adjectives would I use to describe this last year? To describe my current state of being?
What questions is my soul asking? (If this is tough, you might start with questions like, what am I waiting on? What am I afraid of? What am I discouraged by? What do I hope for? What am I frustrated by or struggling to understand? See Psalm 139:23-24.)
Pray: Lord, what do you say in Scripture that’s particularly impactful for where I’m at?
7. God, what do you want to create in me this year?
Pray: You’re the Potter. Help me be open to what you’re really wanting to do (see Luke 1:38). Help me to be humble and teachable. What ways am I standing in your way?
Are there certain verses that would help form me more into who God wants me to be? Some people like to distill these goals into a word or a phrase to easily pull it to mind. Just make sure the phrase doesn’t stand in place of Scripture, or oversimplify situations and their complexity.
I scribble little additions to my own responses and reflections now and then—two pages so far—as my foot prepares to lift seamlessly to catch the moving sidewalk of the new year. As you take time to “prink” over these questions with God, I’d encourage you to add to your list, too. And clutching God’s faithfulness in hand, let’s step with a little more confidence and a little more faith, into the year ahead.
Happy New Year!
This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.