With the dawning of 2015, why not try a new practice for moving into a new year? Instead of a more traditional “out with the old, in with the new” list-making, why not allow God to set the agenda for whatever resolutions might be needed for 2015 by the intentional act of listening?

Try this exercise that might help you move from head thinking to heart thinking as you listen to God speak to the deeper places of your soul, where daily life behaviors and decisions find their source and motivation.

This exercise can be done with a group of people or simply one-on-one with God.

Block off an hour or two (more time if it’s available to you) and find a comfortable, distraction-free place to meet with God. Take four things with you: a candle, a Bible, a notepad/journal, and a talking stick (a small object that signifies that whoever holds the “stick” is the one who talks while everyone else carefully listens).

  1. Light the candle in the center of meeting circle if in a group or between you and a place reserved for God in a more personal setting.
  2. Take time to simply rest and be still before God. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.
  3. When ready, with talking stick in hand, share with God (and anyone else present) the story of your life. Share your story aloud whether in a group or alone with God. You may want to share your successes, disappointments, unexpected turns, challenges, heartaches, places of growth, surprises, met and unmet expectations, etc. Be well aware that God is listening and hanging on every word. Others present should do the same.
  4. If in a group, pass the stick to the next person without comment or question. Repeat until all have told their story.
  5. When all stories have been shared, it’s time to listen carefully to God and whatever story He wants to share with you. Place the talking stick in a place that signifies that God is present and the One now speaking.
  6. Read aloud Psalm 40 carefully and intently. These are God’s words that speak and have voice. Allow His words to penetrate deep within. Listen well, because God is Give pause. Allow God to speak to you in ways that connect with you in ways you can hear. After a time of quiet listening, read Psalm 40 again and continue to listen.
  7. Write down whatever you hear God saying. Even if you aren’t sure it is God doing the speaking, write it down. Don’t hurry here. Give sufficient time for God to speak and for you to listen.
  8. If in a group, take some time to share what you heard God saying to you. You may also take some time to share a thought or two of what you heard from God as stories were shared (be careful to share simply here and do not attempt to “fix” people or direct their year to come – that’s God’s work to do).
  9. Spend the remainder of the time giving thanks to God for His time with you, praising Him for who He is regardless of the year behind or ahead, asking Him for provision and a heart to please Him in 2015, and for the hurts and needs of others as God writes His greater story throughout the world.
  10. Give your New Year experience with God some time and space to marinate. In 3-7 days, re-visit your notes on what you heard God saying to you. With God’s direction, use this new time of encounter to create a list of concrete things to lay down or pick up based on the deeper heart-thinking encounter you had previously.

May God set your heart ablaze and daily give you purpose in 2015 as you listen intently and respond obediently in love!

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