Today I have some thoughts on how to plan your year, but with a little bit of a twist. If you follow my Priority Pastor podcast or my content at all you know I’m fairly big into planning and goal setting and quarterly planning, all that kind of stuff. But one of the most strategic things I do as a part of planning my year is to simply write out a prayer for your year. In this prayer, I write out all the things I’m asking the Lord to do in my life, my family, my ministry, in the high level areas that I concern myself with.
This can be done in the new year, at your birthday or in the middle of the year if you have not done it yet, so really whenever you plan your year. I typically do this near the beginning of the new year, and then tweak it a little bit and make sure it kind of covers everything I want it to cover. Then for the first few weeks of the new year, I will review it and pray it over and then I’ll forget about it. I have this actually in a file I do every year called seeking and then the year number. So this year it’s Seeking 2023, and it’s basically seeking God.
At the start of every day, or most days, I write out a prayer for the day, but the very first prayer in the file for each year is a prayer for the year. What I find by taking my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my stresses, everything else, and instead of just doing, planning and goal setting, but actually praying over those kinds of things changes the tone, attitude and my posture going into the year.
It’s an excellent reminder that whatever my hopes, dreams and ambitions; fears, stresses and worries, success comes from inviting the Lord into that. Asking for his help, his input, his direction, his empowering, and anything else he wants to do as a part of those plans for the year. By having it as a prayer, it just reminds me to hold it all more open-handed just to kind of lay it before I go on and say, ultimately, God, here’s some of my hopes and dreams and worries and stresses and fears. But ultimately, God, my prayer is for your kingdom to come and for your will to be done.
When I review it at the end of the year, at the start of the next year or through the year, it’s just a good reminder where my heart was. It’s a really good refresher to see what God has been up to, because sometimes we make requests and ask for help, and God comes through and we don’t notice. So it’s a good way for me to see what God has been up to in my life through the year or in the year previous.
As a bit of a bonus, I do some questions every year and have a list of questions from Bob Beal. He’s got a list called “A Single Year”, but I’ve added some of my own questions to this list that I ask myself once a year. So let me share with you four questions I’ve personally developed that I like to ask myself once a year to kind of add some focus.
One of the questions is, if this was my last year, what single thing would I do?I don’t know how you’d answer that. I answer almost the same way every year. I would generate some content for my children and my grandchildren. I would basically record and write, and in some way document the things I want them to know and understand about me, about the world and about God.
The next question is, what single gift or asset should you leverage more effectively this year? This is really a stewardship question. It’s a recognition that we have all kinds of resources, which might be things like equipment or knowledge or money or just giftedness. So what am I not using or leveraging as much as I should for what really matters? I find that a really thought provoking question.
Another question: what single thing from your past do you need to leave behind to better move ahead? Well, that’s, that’s a deep one. It can be a memory that keeps coming up that causes your heart to go in the wrong direction. It could be just some old hobby, interest or activity that just needs to go. In some cases it’s a relationship that just needs to go so you can move ahead.
Then finally, what single piece of your identity should you change this year? These are things like, “I am this or I am that”, negative or positive. Maybe there’s some I am statements you need to drop. I am fearful. I am shy. I am ___________, fill in the blank with some statement of lack. Maybe you just need to change that and embrace a new I am statement. I am a child of God. I am gifted by the Spirit of God. I am a person who contains so much potential.
What is that I am that you really do believe? I’m not talking here so much about declarations. I’m talking about actually pieces of your identity that you need to embrace. You need to reject some lies and embrace truths about who you really are.
This year for my prayer I did something I don’t always do. I took my list of questions, these four and a whole list of other questions, and actually turned my answers into a prayer. In a way it was doing some deep introspection that surfaces hopes, dreams, passions, fears and all those stresses and things, and allowing that to shape my prayer this year. So there are different ways of doing this and personalizing it for yourself. I find it really helpful to do a prayer over my year and then see what God will do.
So take some time, write out our prayer for your year, whatever’s left of it, or the next 12 months, and open the door to God’s involvement on the deepest level. God bless, press on.