For Reflection

What are your prayer goals this year?

At the beginning of the year, many of us assess our lives and come up with some goals for improvement. For our spiritual development, we often plan to complete a Bible reading plan or a yearly devotional. Let me encourage you to set some specific goals about prayer as well.

If you haven’t thought much about that yet, here are a few suggestions for spending some more focused energy on your prayers this year.

1. Pray for a specific person. This could be a family member, friend, church member, or member of society. It could be for an individual’s salvation, or health, or spiritual growth. If you choose to pray for an individual, write his or her name down on an index card with some Scripture that you’re praying for them. A great place to start is Ephesians 1:15-23.

2. Pray for a specific issue. The world is full of needs for prayer. You could spend your energies this year praying for a specific issue. A few possibilities: the persecuted church, Christian mission in extremely secular cultures like Japan, injustice throughout the world, church planting in America. If you choose to pray for a specific issue, spend some time learning about the issue so you can pray with more specificity. For example, if you choose to pray for injustice, you could look to International Justice Mission for current prayer needs. The Psalms are good Scriptures to add to your prayers, especially when crying out for justice for the oppressed, like Psalm 94.

3. Pray at specific times. Instead of a specific prayer focus, you may choose to establish a specific time for prayer this year. For example, if you’re married, start praying with your spouse each night before going to sleep. Or, start 2021 by getting in the regular habit of family worship. This doesn’t have to be complicated. In our family, we’ll read a passage of Scripture from a children’s Bible (we love The Gospel Story Bible), pray for each other, and sing the Doxology. If you’re single, maybe structure your day with set times of prayer, like morning, noon, and evening prayer. Or, pick a prayer partner and try to have a regular weekly meeting to pray together, on the phone, over video chat, or in person. The Psalms are perfect for daily prayer, and also model patterns of prayer: waking to pray in the morning (Psalm 59) and meditating on God in the night (Psalm 63).

Once you have your prayer goal, share it with someone. Accountability helps us keep our goals, and when you share your prayer goal, it helps inspire others to make one and pray along.