January is New Years resolution month.
me journal
Get back into the routine at the gym. Start a Bible reading plan. Learn Japanese. Become a more passionate Jesus worshipper. Cut out dessert… except chocolate. Chocolate is good for the heart, you know.
So how do you make a good New Year’s Resolution?

If you keep a prayer journal

For me, January isn’t about looking ahead as much as it is about looking back. Getting to know the past year. One of my January customs is to read through last year’s prayer journal. As I read, I pray—and record my most important learnings in a summary list. These are truths God impressed on my heart that really got traction in my life the past year.

This January’s list has thirty-two learnings on it. A few examples:
  • “The glory of God is the highest aim of life!”
  • “Missing out is just as bad as being misled (parable of the talents)”
  • “Abraham’s starry night is the heritage of all who believe.”
  • “Never try to make people’s decisions for them.”
I don’t journal every day, but pretty regularly. I love journalling, for a couple reasons:
  • It gives me a way to slow down and process my life.
  • It helps me remember important things God has taught me throughout the year so I can go back and track my progress in applying them.
  • Writing things down is one step closer to living them out. The idea is to get the truth out of my head and into the real world. Then I take what I wrote and commit to doing it.
  • I often review what I’ve written the past week.
  • I also record prayer requests, so when I go back, I put check marks by the prayers God has answered. In my 2013 review this morning, I checked off a few old prayer requests, which was a lot of fun: “Hey, that’s right. God did that!”
Obviously, there is no Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt prayer journal.” But the Psalms and prophetic books are pretty much prayer journals, so there’s a lot of biblical precedent for doing it if God lays that on your heart.  Here’s a short video that will help you get started:

If you don’t keep a prayer journal

Even if you don’t keep a diary or journal, I’d encourage you to reflect on last year before you get too far into New Years Resolution territory. If you need a primer to remind yourself about last year, here are ten questions to get you started. Write down the answers. Don’t roll your eyes at me, just do it.

  1. What were your favorite songs this past year? It’s okay to list several.
  2. What were your favorite movies this year (watched in the theatre or rented)?
  3. What were your favorite books this past year?
  4. What were your favorite Bible verses from this past year?
  5. Were there any sermons that stuck? What was your takeaway?
  6. What were your favorite experiences/moments from the past year?
  7. What were the most difficult / painful experiences from the past year?
  8. How have you grown/changed in the last twelve months (be realistic, this isn’t about wishful thinking, remember?)
  9. If you could only get one wish granted or prayer answered this entire year, and it was guaranteed to happen… it would be… what?
  10. Fill in the blank: 2012 was the year I…
  11. (Freebie, #11:) My greatest weakness / mistake / regret this past year was…

Okay. You’ve probably learned a few things about yourself, or at least about the year you’ve just lived. Which means you’re almost ready for an awesome set of New Years Resolutions. But not quite.

Next, ask yourself… why? Why was that your favorite song, moment, experience? Why, for each of the questions.

Next, lay it all out before God and ask him what he thinks about what you’ve written. Write down what comes to mind.

Now it’s time for New Years resolutions. Think of these more like “know years resolutions.”

Happy new year!