I have chosen a focal verse for the year since 2007. Sometimes a verse had been laid on my heart for several months in an area of needed growth for me. Other times a verse would be revealed in the last week of the outgoing year and I wouldn’t know how it was applicable in the new year for several months, but by the end of the year it was evident how God moved and worked in my heart and life with that focal verse. This year, I also chose a focal verse but also added a word for the year.
The Spirit continued to lay the emphasis of prayer on my heart for the past few months. I realized that over the past year I had bought 2-3 books on prayer that I have yet to read. I added to that list a few books I read about a decade ago as a refresher. Then my Journey Group leader announce that we would be studying John 17 on prayer when we finish our current study. So the word of the year is petition.
I began to think over what our family knows about 2019. There will be plenty of opportunity for me to pray and I will be raising a lot of petitions (and requesting your petitioning on our behalf). We learn through experience and I have no doubt that this next year will grow my understanding and practice of prayer in remarkable ways.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16. There are so many verses on prayer that are powerful reminders of its importance and power. But with the focus of “petition” for the year, I need to be mindful of approaching my Lord with confidence. I can be confident in who He is. I can be confident that His leading in my life will be for my eternal good and for His glory. I can be confident that He hears my prayers and petitions and that He will answer according to His will, even if not in ways I would prefer. I can be confident in His enduring mercy and grace over my life no matter what this world throws in my path.
“Prayer in the Spirit is prayer from the heart, springing from awareness of God, of self, or others, of needs, and of Christ.” – Keep in Step with the Spirit by JI Packer. This is my deepest desire: to more fully know and understand God and in the process, to gain a more complete understand of myself and my lack. When I accurately see God for who He is and myself for who I am, then all pride dissolves and selfishness is demolished. I can then more readily and adequately meet the needs of those around me, not the least of which is my family. This year I hope to further develop my prayer life as a means to raise my petitions to the Lord, but also as a way to open the channels to personal communication with Him. I want to have ears to hear so I will have eyes to see His glory and goodness.
While Hebrews 4:16 is my focal verse, I also hope to meditate on a couple other verses on prayer and incorporate praying Scripture into my daily prayers. One verse I hope to meditate on is 1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” Last year, I focused on the Fruit of the Spirit, which led to a whole series of blog posts that will begin next week! Through the study on the Fruit, I discovered that all the fruit are interconnected. As you grow in dependence on the Spirit, the Fruit will grow and develop. How fitting then that one of the Fruit is mentioned in this verse regarding prayer. Self-control is one of the hardest areas for many of us (I speak for myself!). It is important to practice self-control so that our hearts will be in a proper posture for prayer. Practicing self-control also prepares our minds for trials that may arise. So secondly, I hope to meditate on Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” These are commands from the Lord. He does not tell us to “try to rejoice, try to be patient, or try to be constant in prayer.” He tells us to DO and BE. Through the work of the Holy Spirit we are equipped to face the world, which Jesus has already conquered at the cross. This year will bring different trials, both major and minor, and I pray that I do not quench the Spirit’s work in my life.
Praise the Lord for the opportunity to pray. Praise the Lord for an open line of communication every moment of every day. Praise the Lord that He is our intercessor and High Priest. Praise the Lord.
Do you have a focal verse or word for the year? Do you have any other personal goals or resolutions for 2019?