My 2020 word of the year: Prayer. Why do i have a word of the year? Because i want to give a greater focus to an area God reveals to me, to devote more time to it, or to redefine whatever it is that i am focusing on. Choosing a word to focus on for an entire year will lead to new discoveries in that area, finding strengths and weaknesses, and new ways to apply it to my walk with God.
On New Year’s Eve i was visiting a church in Hopelchen, Campeche, and part of what they were doing was letting people pick up a slip of paper with a verse on it featuring a promise from God. My verse ended up being 1 Peter 3:12: For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their prayer… This isn’t telling me that God will answer all of my prayers in 2020, but rather that He is attentive to them; He hears them and pays attention. What a delight that is, to know that God sees tiny little me on this tiny little earth and hears my prayers, even the ones i barely whisper in my mind. He pays attention to that! Isn’t that wonderful?
This verse didn’t immediately lead me to choosing Prayer as my word of the year. i prayed about it some more, and eventually it just clicked into place. This was it. My prayer life isn’t very strong at this moment, my belief in the power of prayer is on shaky ground, and God often changes the one doing the praying more than the one being prayed for. i know this will challenge me if i surrender this part of my life to God’s control, and growing pains are inevitable. But as with anything in God’s control, it will lead to a better place and changes for the better.
i am currently a student at a Bible school in Mexico and they’ve got us involved in a few prayer programs. One of them is prayer groups for the whole semester (3 months). There’s 6 of us in my group and we meet once a week. We are to pray for each other, get to know each other, and just be there for other during this time. i am looking forward to getting to know these ladies better and learning how to be sincere and intentional in my prayers with them. Another program they have is prayer partners. Every two weeks we draw a random name and pray for that person for the whole 2 weeks. And we can do it anonymously, in person, through notes, however we feel led to pray for that person. On top of that, i have some wonderful ladies around me here who deeply believe in the power of prayer. i hope to learn much from them, to be more open to pray out loud and often, and to believe that prayer matters.
Let’s take a moment to see what Scripture says about prayer. This is what ultimately matters and is truth, not my current feelings on the matter. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 makes a powerful start with this, “Pray without ceasing.” Don’t give up when your prayers are not answered, keep at it! And don’t give up when they are. Pray in praise and thanksgiving for what God has done. Then, in James 5:16 it says “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” We should pray for each other, and not just in the privacy of our hearts. Pray OUT LOUD. We should be talking to each other about our areas of struggle and then praying for one another in that moment. Because let’s face it, so often when we say “I’ll pray for you” we end up forgetting about it and then just don’t. So pray right away, out loud, and without ceasing.
This is something i want to change about my prayer life this year. To pray out loud and to pray often. To pray out loud even when it’s just God and me, not to always keep it in my heart. i would liken only ever praying in silence (which by itself, isn’t bad. But let’s not just leave it there) to only ever texting a friend. Yes, you still communicate but how much more personal and effective isn’t a phone call? It establishes a deeper connection, emotions come into the voice, and even physical emotions like hand gestures or smiles and laughter.
i’m getting excited just thinking about all the possibilities and opportunities for this. And let’s face it, Bible school life is so busy and fast paced that one has to intentionally set time aside to have one-on-one time with God. A friend’s sister had told her before she left, “Don’t forget about Jesus while you’re at Bible school.” That’s something i am trying to take to heart for myself. Because doing spiritual schoolwork isn’t that same as spending time with God.
Word of the year or not, our prayer life is something we should always be working on. It is our way of communicating with God, it lays our heart open before Him, it’s an encouragement to those we pray for and with, and it releases what we’ve been holding in during the day/week/month. It draws us nearer and deeper.
Let us pray.