• Jennifer

One Word: A Sneak Peek Into The New Year



It’s about this time each year when I start thinking about the upcoming year.


Looking at you, 2021!


Thanksgiving and Christmas lovers, before you throw stones, trust me when I say there’s no rushing the holiday season in this house. I’m hanging on to every pumpkin, turkey, and candy cane as long as I can.


It’s just that there’s something about the shift from one year to the next that gets me excited.


So while I’m baking for Thanksgiving, and putting up the Christmas tree, I’m also dreaming of the new year.


And in my anticipation, I’m asking God to give me a word.


This tradition of praying for one word is based on a little trend called, “one word.” In this trend, people choose one word to focus on for the year. Their word is generally centered around a goal they want to accomplish in the new year.


For me, the tradition has nothing to do with a goal and everything to do with what God wants to accomplish in my heart.


I’m asking God to show me in a word what He wants to do in my life in the new year.


My One Word Through The Years


I can’t tell you what year I started this tradition, but I still remember my very first word.


I’d been asking God for a word for a few weeks when I started seeing this one word over and over. It was everywhere- in conversations with people, in books I was reading, and all over social media.


The word was “seek.”


Because it was all so new, I was shocked 1) that God gave me a word for the year and 2) that God used the word to draw me closer to Him.


As it turned out, that year I learned to seek God like never before.


I would not have seen that coming, but God did. And in His kindness, He allowed me a sneak peek.


Recently, I’ve been digging through old journals trying to find each of the words God has given me over the years. Of course, I couldn’t find them all, but here are my words from the last few years.


Faith (2014)


Vision (2015)


Love (2016)


One (2017)


Brave (2018)


Blessed (2019)


Free/Freedom (2020)


I wish I had the time to tell you about God’s faithfulness in those years and how He’s used each word.


Let’s just say God has revealed His sovereignty with each one.


Have you ever thought of asking God for one word?


Why I Pray For One Word?


One Word Reminds Me of God’s Personal Nature


O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Psalm 139:1-6 ESV


God knows us personally and He longs for intimacy with us. You don’t have to pray for a word to experience intimacy with God. Intimacy comes as we spend time in His Word and prayer. But if you do ask God for a word, I believe you’ll be surprised how personally you are known.


One Word Gives Me Focus For The Year


Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Luke 12:35-36 ESV


God’s coming back for His Church soon. We’re instructed to wait, to watch, and to anticipate His return. But we’re so distracted! Seeking God and focusing on what He is doing in our lives helps ground us. It reminds us this life is temporary and the Kingdom we are living for is not our own.


One Word Helps Me Experience God In A Fun Way


Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8 ESV


Like every relationship, sometimes we just need to mix things up a bit. It’s fun to try something new. And I promise you this relationship will satisfy you far beyond any earthly relationship. So keep things interesting!


How Do I Know What My One Word Is?


Praying for one word is about growing in your relationship with God, not about making demands. Just as when you seek God about anything, make sure the goal is to know Him better. Then humbly bring your request to Him.


There’s no formula for seeking God. But to help you understand what the “one word” process is like for me, I’ve included the steps I take each year.


1) I begin with a simple prayer.


‘God, will you give me a word for this new year? Will you give me a glimpse of what you are doing in {insert year} through one word?”


2) I anticipate God’s answer.


In my experience, the revealing is slow, but it always comes.


3) I hold all words loosely until I sense a pattern.


For me, this step typically involves paying attention to words that seem to show up everywhere. Most years, I feel like I’m being stalked by a word.


4) I ask God to reveal if this is my word for the year.


“Is this the word you have for me, Lord?”


5) I settle on my word.


Remember, one word is not another new year’s resolution, but an opportunity to grow in intimacy with our Father. So have fun with it!


I hope you’ll consider joining me in praying for one word for the upcoming year!


If you’re praying for one word for 2021, let me know in the comments! And when God reveals your word, be sure to come back and tell me!


Verses For Further Study:


Psalm 139:16 ESV: Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.


Colossians 1:17 ESV: And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.


Romans 12:2 ESV: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


© 2020 Jennifer Adams.
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