You know how just the right word at the right time can make a huge difference in how you feel or what you think about something? Someone pats you on the back and says, “Good job!” and you feel six inches taller. Maybe someone reminds you to “Keep your eye on the ball” or encourages you to “Hang in there,” and you suddenly can focus again and find courage or strength you didn’t know you had. Even just hearing, “I really appreciate you,” or “I love you,” can breathe new life into us.
Just think, then, how much better would your life be if you could get just the word you need to hear every day? And, what do you think would happen if you asked God to give it to you?
I’ve been experimenting with this idea for about a month now.
Every morning as part of my Bible reading and prayer time, or when I am in worship, I ask God to give me a word for the day. I’m looking for something to help prepare me for whatever may be ahead. I don’t try to force an answer or fabricate one. If one doesn’t come, I wait, and ask again later. I don’t get a word every day, but most days I wind up hearing something that proves to be very helpful at the moment or later on.
Don’t worry, I don’t hear crazy stuff. I don’t get weird messages to wreak havoc on the world or to do something stupidly heroic. Rather, a simple word, an intriguing idea, clarity about something, or action needed suddenly emerges in my mind.
Here are some of the words I’ve heard so far:
• “It’s not your ministry”
• “Love them”
• “Deal gently”
Sometimes I know immediately what God is trying to communicate to me. For example, when I heard that “it’s not your ministry,” I knew that I had to stop caring so much about how I wanted the Rwandan Leadership Training Conference to unfold. I didn’t know at first how helpful this word would turn out to be, but I got the main idea right away: “Stop getting bent out of shape by the endless stream of glitches and frustrations, and pay more attention to whatever God is doing in the midst of the chaos!” The word from God was freeing and helped me to lead and minister far more effectively than if I had stayed focused on my petty concerns.
Other times, the word that jumps out to me strikes a chord, but I have no idea how it might apply to my life, let alone to that particular day. Then there are those times when the word is almost bewildering. I’m not talking about the day I heard, “whistleblower.” As strange as that word might seem, hearing was actually very helpful to me at the time.
Rather, I’m thinking about the day “hope” emerged as my daily word. I can always use more hope in my life, but why this word, this day?
It wasn’t until that night that my answer came. I was having dinner with a close friend, who was glowing as she told me about how God was working in such wonderful ways. The more awe radiated from her face, the more joy I felt in my heart. Her faith was coming alive before my eyes, and I suddenly knew the meaning of my word from God.
Sometimes I lose hope when someone drifts away from God or simply can’t believe in Christ, especially when everything I try to do to help seems to be useless. But when I see something good like this happening, completely independent of my efforts, my hope springs wings again. I suspect that God gave me “hope” in the morning so that I would not miss the true meaning of my friends’ words in the evening. Her story was good news for her, but the hope I felt was a gift to me.
What word do you think God might have for you today? Have you asked for one?
But [Jesus] answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4, NRSV)
The Point: Asking the Holy Spirit for a word each day is one more way to seek a better connection to God. It’s also a helpful method for living a more Spirit-led life. To hear what the Spirit has to say, you need to create enough space within your heart, mind and daily rhythm to ask and to listen—even if it takes all day.
Prayer: “Loving God, please speak to me today, and every day, the word you most want me to hear. Please give me ears to hear, an open heart and mind to receive, and a willing spirit to receive your words of nourishment and guidance, for Christ’s sake. Amen.”
This article is part of the “What Will Make a Difference?” series for your spiritual nurture and growth.