This post is by René Bancroft.
We’ve all been there in years past as we enter a new calendar year. Our hearts are full from spending time with family and friends as we celebrate the holidays. And every year, we are bombarded with all the new ways we can connect with each other, ourselves, and God. I’ll be honest, I usually make it to the end of January, and “life happens,” and I allow myself and my new schedule to get trampled by the demands of ‘all the things’ I have going on. You too?
This year, I allowed myself to start some new habits beginning in the middle to the end of January. It usually takes me until the second week of the month to get all the Christmas decorations put away! There’s something about beginning fresh when the house is all cleaned up and put back into order.
I’m not saying I forget about my time with the Lord; I still have a devotional time and reading scripture. What I’m talking about is bringing in something new and fresh to your time with the Lord.
This year, I’m doing a few new things that I’ll sprinkle in throughout the coming months. There’s no need to do all the latest reading plans in the first few weeks of the year. When you plan it out to last through the whole year, it’s like giving yourself a new gift with each new devotional idea or plan.
One of the ideas I’m going to incorporate when it gets a little warmer is to go to a local botanical garden with my current devotional reading plan. Instead of reading the chapters, I’ll bring along my air pods and listen to God’s Word as I walk through His beautiful creation. I am so excited about this!
Something that the Lord has been really pressing me to do is to dive deeper into my prayer life with Him. He wants to engage with me in thoughtful conversations. To do this, I must become a better listener! I wouldn’t dream of calling up a friend, jumping into my verbal tornado of statements and questions, ask her what she thinks, but then hang up the phone without hearing her answers. That would be ridiculous, right? Well, that’s what we do with God every time we come to Him with our prayers and then leave His presence without gleaning His wisdom from His responses to us.
Here’s another aspect of prayer that I will endeavor to improve in, and I would love to encourage you to join me. I want to set aside time just to sit and listen. What a concept! Throughout grade school, okay, probably through most of high school, too, there were always two constant teacher comments I’d receive on my report cards.
“René is very helpful to the teacher and her classmates.”
“René talks too much.”
Every. Report card! Y’all, can you relate to that? I’m sure I’m not alone here.
However, I do know the blessing of sitting and listening. To say, “It’s not in my nature to be still” is not true either. I am an image-bearer of Christ, and as such, I am fully capable and MADE to be still. It’s something that must be learned and practiced.
Colossians 3:10 says, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (ESV)
Psalm 111:10 says, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! (ESV)
So, as you begin the new year, or any new month for that matter, search for some new ways to encounter the Lord in your life. Here are a few ideas: Listen to audio Bible passages, investigate a specific topic, learn what it means to pray and intentionally meditate on God’s Word, find a prayer challenge to join in with others on social media, walk in nature and ask God what reminds Him of you, pray scriptures out loud, or simply sit and listen as you ask God what He wants to speak to you.
The Lord desires to be in a relationship with me, and part of it looks like prayerful listening. Sometimes there are voluminous waterfalls of words and emotions that tumble out of my mouth and my heart, and Jesus is so willing to receive what I have to say. Friends, He has so much more to communicate back to me, to share what is on His heart for my life.
Best of all, the Lord will never run out of things to say to you and to speak over you. You are indeed one of His best creations, and He has declared you are very good!
René was born and raised in Southern California and currently resides in Altadena, CA, and came to know the Lord at eight years old. She & her husband Tony have been married since July 14, 1990. Together they have raised three daughters & have one son-in-law, and loving the ‘empty-nest’ lifestyle! René has a mother’s heart and has been serving women of all ages for the past 25 years: as a mentor-mom, a marriage mentor with Tony at their church, and mentors several female students each week at Azusa Pacific University. She currently works with One Voice Student Missions as their HR/Missionary Care Director and Mentor-Mom. René believes in the authentic beauty of who God created women to be and desires to bring others into their giftedness and calling. In her free time, she loves to meet friends for coffee, read, write for her blog, and have opportunities to publish on various Christian ministry blog sites, websites, and magazines.
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