The new year is a great time to set new resolutions. But often the goals we set for ourselves are rooted in selfishness. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve our health, save money, or shed those extra pounds, we often put spiritual goals at the bottom of our to-do list.
What if 2023 was the year we redefine success by focusing on our spiritual goals rather than our personal ones? What if, a few days before the end of the year, we take the time to ask God what he wants for our lives rather than making it fit into our schedules?
Here are five spiritual goals for the New Year:
1. Practice Spiritual Discipline
We all know that Bible reading and prayer are integral to our spiritual growth. But there are other spiritual disciplines that can also greatly enhance our intimacy with the Lord. For example, Elijah practiced solitude and silence, and the Lord spoke to him: “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, and the Lord will pass away!’ “” (1 Kings 19:11)
Daniel fasted, and the Lord blessed him: “Therefore try with your servants for 10 days: let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. We will then examine before you our appearance and that of the young people who eat the dishes served at the king’s table. Then, act with us, your servants, according to what you will have seen. (Daniel 1:12-13).
Paul was practicing writing when he said to Timothy, “Waiting for me to come, be careful to read the scriptures in the congregation, to encourage, to teach. (1 Timothy 4:13).
What if we took time out of our usual schedule to commune with God in different ways? What would that do for our intimacy with the Lord? What would that do for our churches? It is clear that the churches need to be revitalized. But revitalization starts with us.
2. Pray in a new way
Even if we pray to God regularly, how often do we take the time to listen? The Holy Spirit wants to speak in our lives. He wants to reveal new things to us through the Word of God; he wants to give us direction and guide every aspect of our lives. The scriptures say that every hair of our head is numbered. If God took the time to number the hairs of our heads, surely He has a plan for our spiritual lives, right? Take a moment to analyze your prayer life. Sometimes the best way to have a deeper relationship with God is to revitalize your prayer life. Jesus “often went up to solitary places to pray”. His close fellowship with the Lord is what kept him from giving in to the temptations of the world throughout his years of ministry. If Jesus saw prayer as an integral part of his relationship with God, shouldn’t we do the same?
3. Read the Bible in a year
Did you know that if you read five chapters of scripture every day for five weekdays starting in January, you would have read the Bible cover to cover in ten months? Reading the Bible seems much more achievable than reading sixty-six books of the Bible when broken down into smaller goals. But often we don’t read the Bible cover to cover because we think the Old Testament is irrelevant or because the New Testament is made up of repetitive commandments that we have already read. If you have no interest in reading the entire Bible, ask yourself the following question: I have read the Bible, but have I ever taken the time to study it? In the new year, pray before you read and ask God to reveal to you a new nugget of truth from His Word. You will be amazed at how many verses you have already read many times, only to read them this time with new meaning and application for your life.
4. Read the Bible in another translation
Although many of us have already read the Bible cover to cover, perhaps we can make it our goal to read the Bible in a new translation. You may have a translation you’re most comfortable with, but have you ever considered reading it in a translation you’ve never seen before? The post, for example, reads like a storybook because it has no verse numbers or subtitles. Challenge yourself to compare translations of your favorite verses. In what new way does the Lord speak to you when the Word is translated differently?
5. Complete a weekly prayer challenge
Prayers are a wonderful way to commune with God regularly. It is important not only to present our request to God, but also to praise him, to confess our sins and to be grateful for his presence in our lives. But often, our prayers get diluted in what we want: our agenda, our will and our desires. Set aside one day a week to pray for the needs of those around you. You can create an ACTS 1:8 prayer method by asking yourself: Who is my Judea? Who is my Samaria? Who is at the ends of the earth?
What if we set aside a day when we asked God to set captives free, heal the sick, and cast out demons in third world countries? It could revitalize our prayer life for the better. It would broaden our perspectives and increase our compassion for those less fortunate than us.
It is easy to engage in a spiritual routine. Because we practice the same methods of growth, we often remain static in our faith. But as we commit to participating in the initiatives mentioned above, we can find that our spiritual lives are more intense than ever and that we engage with the Savior in new and exciting ways.
Michelle S. Lazurek
Article translated from English from the site Crosswalk.
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