In the first of a series of blogs during January looking at different ways to connect with God, Claire Musters shares how choosing one word to focus on each year has impacted her.
In recent years, the idea of choosing a word for the year that is then focused on and regularly prayed into has become popular among Christians. The book My One Word (Zondervan), came from a challenge that one of the authors gave their church back in 2007 to ditch New Year’s resolutions and instead focus on a word that year.
I am not one to jump on bandwagons, and actually avoided the trend to begin with. Then, at the start of 2017, I felt God impress on me that he wanted me to focus on a particular word in the coming year: ‘humility’. That word really stretched and challenged me in ways I couldn’t have imagined, which resulted in me working on my character. For example, I found myself in situations where I felt the need to ‘fight my corner’, and God stopped me in my tracks by simply whispering: ‘humility’. Rather than going off ‘all guns blazing’, I took the time to slow down and pray. I experienced peace as a result, and lost the overwhelming desire to react.
Since then, I can honestly say that the word for the year has become a great discipleship tool in my life. I have been surprised by the words that have come, and how much God has used them to shape me.
There have been years when the words have seemed strange – out of place even. For example, in 2020 my word for the year was ‘delight’ – by that February my mum had died and then the pandemic hit. I had to dig deep to find out what treasure God wanted me to learn about delight: delighting in him despite my circumstances, and how he delights in me. Last year my word was ‘rest’, and it was one of the hardest, most gruelling years I’ve ever had. I came to understand how God’s rest is necessary for survival rather than a nice optional extra within a busy life.
I don’t like doing anything under compulsion, so certainly wouldn’t want to add to a list of ‘ought tos’ in your life. However, I have found choosing a word for the year has been life-giving in so many ways, and would recommend you try it out.
Choosing a word
Each time I have chosen a word, I have simply prayed and asked God for a word. I have then taken a few weeks to see if the word that I sensed was in fact the right one – and prayed it through with close friends.
If you feel that you need step-by-step guidance, then My One Word provides clear advice on how to choose a word for the year. For example, it suggests that you pick a word that ‘centres on your character and creates a vision for your future’. The book takes you through the process of how to narrow down everything you want to achieve during the year into that one word.
Once you have a word, you may find it helpful (as I have) to let a few trusted friends know what it is so that they can be praying for you. You might like to invite them to ask God for a word for themselves too, so that you can be supporting one another.