Welcoming 2022 Day 5: Goals for 2022
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV)
Be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:11-12, ESV)
Yesterday we talked about how God uses situations in our lives to refine us to become more Christlike. As Christians we are on the narrow path and are guaranteed eternal life, but our life here will be filled with trials and tribulations (James 1:2-3). But we also have a better hope (Heb 7:19). As we walk into the new year, many of us will make goals to work on and resolutions to keep, from exercising more and eating healthier, to reading our Bibles every day and improving our prayer lives. Whatever you want to work on, I encourage you to make a goal that is related to your spiritual life as well. Disciplining ourselves can seem daunting, but in making these goals, add a note to have grace with yourself as you walk through each day.
Time and again in the Pauline Epistles we are given lists, like the two I chose for our verses today. In a few words, Paul covers what the Christian life is to consist of: gratitude, prayer, rejoicing in all circumstances. These lists highlight what it means to be a true believer and how to live out one’s life for Christ. It is a tall order and impossible to totally fulfill, but with the grace of God we aim to reach these goals.
Galatians tells us that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” In the Christian life we are told to do two things vital to our growth: to read and to pray. I hear it in teaching messages, I read it on blogs like this one, and I tell those I mentor as well. Prayer is how we communicate with God and reading His Word is how He communicates with us. If we do one but not the other, we will always have a one-sided conversation. Relationships are built on communication, so I hope we can agree that reading and praying are the most important things we can be doing to further our walk with God. But more than that, with just these two simple things we can live a full life that glorifies Christ.
Here are some practical ideas for goals for this year. Choose a chapter and memorize it over the course of the year. If you want to be more consistent about reading, choose a reading plan and stick to it. The ESV Bible app has many studies available that are yearlong or simply a few weeks. There are loads of hardcopy Bible-in-a-year options available as well, including cover to cover, chronological, or a combination of Old Testament and New Testament daily readings. Block the same time into your schedule every day and spend that time praying; start a prayer journal and write down one thing every day—you get the idea. These goals don’t have to be elaborate nor involve time-consuming activities.
Studies show that in order to read the whole Bible in one year it takes 12-15 minutes of reading each day. When I learned that statistic I was blown away. I can definitely do that! There are still days when I miss my reading and have to catch up, or sometimes I just keep plugging along. Other days I listen to the Bible-in-a-year podcast and that makes it easy. There is something for everyone and all it takes is a little thought and planning to put things into action.
So what are you going to do this year? Are you going to read more, pray more, or even just love more? Take the time and read the chapters our verses are from. Let the words seep into your heart and change your mind on what it looks like to live a Christ-filled life. Pray constantly, rejoice in all times, and, most importantly, serve the Lord.