It’s that time of year when we greet one another with the familiar phase, Happy New year. We wish for happiness, make promises, and change routines.
There is one change in routine that will affect every area of your life: Before you jump into your flurry of activity for the day, spend time with God in prayer and Bible reading. It is impossible to consistently spend time with God and not see change. A change in attitude, a change of heart, a change in direction, a change in your strength, a change in your faith, conviction, thankfulness, and even motivation. A change to humility.
“I know, I know,” you say. “I’ve tried this but it doesn’t work.” Try it again for 21 days.
Studies reveal that it takes 21 days to start or drop a habit. For the next 21 days make a commitment to spend a few minutes each day talking with God in prayer and reading His Word. This new habit will change your life.
1. Find a quiet spot free from distractions. This means away from your phone, your computer, and anything else that would cause your thoughts to start wondering. Your spot might be a special place in your house. Some things to have on hand include: a journal to record your thoughts, your Bible, a devotional guide, praise music, pens and highlighters.
2. Begin by simply saying thank you. Write the date on the top line of your journal page. Then write the word, Thanksgiving. List a few things you are thankful for. For example:
• Health or healing from sickness
• My Bible
• That you, God, are with me during this very hard time
• God’s mercy
Psalm 50:14 and 50:23 say that offering praise and thanksgiving to God brings Him glory. When we come before God with thanksgiving it’s like we are opening the conversation with him, which moves us into the presence of God. And it pleases God when we thank Him. Circumstances aren’t always good and you may not feel like saying thanks. By doing so, however, is an act of obedience.
3. Read your Bible and/or devotional guide. The Bible is God’s love letter to you. His inspired words are like a map or compass. God’s word is also a source of inspiration, strength and encouragement. There are many versions of the Bible to choose from. Get one that is easier for you to understand. Devotionals are also good guides, especially when you don’t know where to start reading in the Bible. Don’t let a devotional book substitute reading the actual Word of God though. Where it references a passage of Scripture, look it up and read it for yourself.
4. Record in your journal the passages you read. You can summarize what you read, or you can write out exactly the verses you read. This will help you memorize Scripture too.
5. Apply what you read to your life. The Scriptures are not just historical events written for other people. They are written for you. Make them personal by inserting your name into the following verses:
Call to Me, _____________________________and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
Cast your cares on Him, ________________________, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 To apply the second verse, make a list of everything you’re worried about in your journal. Read the list to God as your prayer.
God desires a relationship with us. To build relationship, communication is required. When we communicate with God we develop a deeper relationship with Him. Your relationship with God is personal so your prayers will be too. It is not necessary to pray fancy prayers or use big words. Just pray what is on your heart and use your own vocabulary.
Practice the disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship through praise and thanksgiving, and watch as you see God reveal Himself to you! The change you experience will be amazing in 2016 and beyond.
Debbie is co-founder of Shine! Ministries and a partner with The Polished Conference. She is the author of one Bible Study, “Shine! Radiating the Love of God,” and has numerous stories in the Divine Moments series, compiled by Yvonne Lehman. These books are available at Grace-publishing.com. She would love to speak at your next women’s event, teen event, or at the college where she brings an inspirational message to teachers in training called, “A Christian Perspective for an Inspirational Classroom.” For more information visit her website: www.debbiepresnell.com or visit her page on facebook: shineministriesnc. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.