How to Hear the Lord Prophetically for the New Year

Part Four: Getting a “word” from the Lord for your year

Many of you have, for some time, gotten a word that tends to frame out the upcoming year for you. It could be something that captures in one word (or phrase) the focus or desire of what you sense the year will bring about, or what direction you feel you are being pulled towards or even what you hope and pray to experience. Words like: Joy. Courage. Rest. Belief. Intentional. Obedience. Hope. Build. Release. Balance. Restoration. These are just some of the words I’ve already seen popping up in friend’s posts for this coming year. But where do these words come from? Does everybody get a word? And if we’d like to have a word, how can we know what our “word” is?

Getting a word for my year was something that just sort of “happened” a few years back. I wasn’t particularly seeking it out, it just happened to come during a time of prayer. All of a sudden a word that I wasn’t thinking about and that even felt completely unrelated to what was on my mind in that moment came to me. It came in such a powerful way, I felt like I had just been handed a stick of dynamite. It was all I could do to grab a piece of paper, a huge sharpie and write that one word down. And that one word rearranged me and it rearranged my year.

Ever since then, I’ve noticed that as I continue to make it my priority to seek God, a word (or phrase) always tends to emerge. Sometimes, the word hangs like a banner over the entire 12 month year, other times, it lasts for a month, or a season or two and then the word sort of metamorphoses into a greater, bolder headline.

But here’s one of the most important things I’ve learned about “words”: We can get words that come from our soul, and we can get words that come from the Spirit. Both are great to have and essential to our planning processes, but they are not the same thing.

Words that come from our soul are those which are birthed from our own mind, our will and/or emotions. They can express some of our deepest desires as to what we want to accomplish, what types of goals we want to set, or what direction we’d like to start heading in. They can also pinpoint areas in which we desperately need to experience breakthrough. These words can create a picture board in the theatre of our mind and they can help us simplify the bigger plan by boiling it all down to one nutshell concept that we can easily come back to throughout the year.

God can (and should be) very much involved in this part of our planning process as we seek Him out for the year. He’s the One who created us with a brilliant mind, with a strong will, and with powerful emotions. And He can draw on those things, using them as magnets to move us towards our destiny. We want Him influencing our planning, our strategies, our desires! He expands our vision, enlarges our capacity and keeps us from settling for less than what He has in store. And more than that, He wants us to succeed!

Remember the Lord your God, He is the one who gives you power to be successful…” Deuteronomy 8:18a NLT

But in my experience, here’s another thing I’ve noticed: the most successful years I’ve ever had are the ones where my words take the position of subtitle, and God’s words are the main headline.

Whenever I set goals, come up with strategies, draw out even some of the most descriptive, aggressive plans, but I don’t make time to hear or prioritize (or keep at the top of my page) the larger over-arching word or theme of what God is speaking? I’m leaving out a HUGE piece of the puzzle. I’m not seeing the goals and strategies through the proper filter. The missing link that’s going to pull, energize, and hold it all together and make it succeed.

Words that come from the Spirit are those given to us (almost breathed into us) from God. And one of the primary differences I’ve noticed between words of the soul and words of the Spirit is that words that come from God tend to highlight a particular attribute of HIMSELF that He wants to make known to us.

…Then you shall known that I am the Lord your God…” Exodus 6:7b NKJV

Just read through the Scriptures. Time and time again, whenever God did something amongst His people, or whenever He moved, or made things happen, or called on people to spring into action or take new ground – it was always in order so that the people would know Him, learn about a particular attribute or name of God, or walk in deeper intimacy with Him. I can’t even count the times that throughout the Bible we find phrases like, “so that they would know Me” or “I made Myself known to them” or “by this name they shall know Me”. Everything He does always serves to point back to who He is. Even everything we see in creation was designed to point us to specific attributes of His nature! And so it is with our lives.

Remember friends, this entire journey is RELATIONAL. It has less to do with our accomplishments and more to do with what we’re learning, discovering and experiencing about HIM. Don’t get me wrong: accomplishments are important. We’re not to live this life idle. We must be good stewards of our time, talent and treasure and we glorify God greatly when we’re operating to our fullest potential in the gifting, skills, knowledge and understanding He’s placed within us. But those things should always fall into “subtitle position”. We have to make sure that we always keep the main headline of our lives what’s going on in our relationship with Him.

It’s when we link these two together, like a master title and subtitle, that things really start taking off and we set ourselves up for a powerful, effective year.

How do you find out what your “word” is? Seek God for the purpose of seeking Him alone. Lay aside your own goals and objectives for a moment and open your heart to seek Him first. You’ll come back to those things and He’ll bring even greater clarity and meaning to them. But first, you want to make sure that you’ve got your headline. You want to make sure you’re seeing everything you want to accomplish through the filter first of what He’s wanting to make known to you about HIMSELF. This will be the key to making all your other goals and plans work.

You will know when a word has been dropped into your heart by the Spirit of God. It will carry a different type of dunamis power and energy with it. It will most likely be a word that describes a characteristic or attribute or name of God. And it will rearrange you. That word will become the well you draw from for the year. That word will be the outlet you’ll plug into that will energize all your other goals and plans. It will determine the roads that you choose to travel on and it will point you in the direction of what Scriptures to read, what prayers to pray, what songs to sing and what other resources to reach for. Keep this as your headline for the year, and nothing will be impossible for you.

“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37 NKJV