Every year I select a passage of Scripture on which to meditate throughout the year. Last year, I also learned of some women who not only pick a Scripture, but they also pick a word for the year on which to focus. I liked that idea, too, so I decided to pick both a Scripture and a word.
So for 2010, I chose Colossians 3:12-14 because I wanted to focus on kindness and compassion. I love that this passage starts with our motivation, tells us how to respond, and ties it all together with love. I don't know that I can say I made great strides this year in becoming more kind or compassionate, but I do think I am better at recognizing when I'm being unkind and I've become more aware of the idols of my heart that cause my unkindness to bubble to the surface. I'm still working on it. It's a slow process.
I mentioned recently that I have been convicted that my prayer life is lacking, so it's probably not a surprise that my word for 2011 is PRAYER. My problem isn't that I don't pray at all. I do pray, but I find myself praying very selfish and shallow prayers.
For example, I pray, "Lord, please save my loved one," but my motivation for their salvation is to make my life easier. Ouch!
I'm not saying it's wrong to pray for someone's salvation. I'm only saying that I've noticed my own motivation for these prayers is sometimes very self-centered. James 4:3 says, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." That hits me right between the eyes.
Another issue I've found with my prayer life is that instead of conversing with God, I tend to just bring Him a string of requests. It's like I've got this big what-You-can-do-for-me list without offering Him the proper praise and thankfulness that He deserves. My praise and thankfulness vocabulary is very limited. This ought not to be so.
So my verse for 2011 is Colossians 4:2: "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving" (See bookmark graphic). I chose the NASB because it used the phrase "devote yourselves to prayer" rather than "continue earnestly in prayer." I like that because it doesn't presume you're already doing it. If you have been praying, keep devoting yourself. If not, devote yourself now.
For the back of my bookmark, I put some other verses about prayer that I had considered using for my yearly verse (see graphic on left).
For an alternate bookmark back (because I'm completely incapable of making a decision), I took the 31 Ways to Pray for Your Children list from this website (HT: Challies.com) and shrunk it down to fit on the bookmark (see graphic on right). They're tiny but still (sorta) readable.
For those of you who are interested in a similar 31 Ways to Pray for Your Husband list, there is one here from Revive Our Hearts ministry. (Since many of the items on this list are geared toward Christian husbands, I decided to use the "children" list to pray for both my children and my husband.)
I have already read a few books on prayer and am currently reading A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A. Carson, which was recommended to me. If you know of any great books on prayer, I would love to hear your recommendations as well.
Now for the fun part! I will be making several of these bookmarks and laminating them to use as a reminder throughout the year. If you would like one, I would be happy to make one for you, too. Just leave a comment on this post and tell me if you want the "prayer Scriptures" on the back of your bookmark or the "31 Ways to Pray for Your Children." If you do not know me personally, please leave an e-mail address so I can e-mail you to get your mailing address.
May we all be more faithful prayer warriors in 2011 and in the years to come.