5 Journal Prompts for Reflecting on This Past Year

5 Journal Prompts for Reflecting on This Past Year

As Christmas draws to a close and the New Year comes upon us, it is easy for us to make New Year's resolutions about what we want to get out of life in the New Year. There is a sense of hope when we can control our own circumstances, especially if we're ending the previous year enduring difficult circumstances. However, God cares just as much about our character and our likeness of him as he does about resolving our situation. Instead of making New Year's resolutions this year, take some time to reflect on the previous year. One of the best attitudes to go into the New Year with is gratitude. It's difficult to give thanks for all God has done when we don't take the time to reflect properly. This means we may experience deep emotions as we experience the highs and lows of our year. For example, one of the biggest challenges we may have faced is ourselves or a loved one experiencing a health crisis. Although you or your loved one may still be facing that challenge, reflect on what God had done through that illness this year. How did God help you overcome this challenge? How do you want to display a more Christ-like character through this trial? As we reflect on the past year, consider all the highs and lows of the year. Use the following journal prompts to reflect so that you may grow and change and have an even better New Year:

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The best thing God did for me this year was…

Although you may have faced some challenges, there may have been some great blessings—or even small ones—that you may want to celebrate. What were some good things God did in your life this past year? Did he allow you to leave a job so that you may find an even better one? Were you able to leave a toxic relationship just to enjoy other relationships more richly? If you're having trouble identifying good things God has done this year (especially if you're in a tough season), ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them. Ask the Lord to recall all the ways God has worked in your life over the past year. You may be surprised to find God was with you more than you previously thought. The best way to practice gratitude is to first celebrate all the wonderful things God has done. The small wins (and the big ones) all count. Write them down and celebrate them, praising God for all he has done. 

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The biggest challenge I faced was….

After celebrating all the ways God has blessed you, think about some of the biggest challenges. The challenge may not have affected your life personally, but it may have indirectly affected you through a loved one. For example, did your child face academic challenges that you had to help him walk through? Did a financial crisis affect your family? What have you been praying for all year that you perhaps have not seen come to fruition? As you recall, let the tears flow. It's OK to experience big emotions when talking to God. While you express your deepest feelings to the Lord, remember that if the Lord has given you the opportunity to get up the next day, he is not done. God does things in his timing, not in ours. Just because a challenge seems incredibly difficult does not mean it is impossible. If God can raise dead people to life, open prison doors for the oppressed, and miraculously feed 5000 people with a couple of loaves of bread and two fish, he can do what it is you are asking of him. 

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God helped me overcome this challenge by…

However, sometimes, he wants to use the trial to form a Christlike character within us. Allow God to form you through this trial. Notice what you see God forming within you and make a note of it. Sometimes the biggest challenge is creating self-control or patience within yourself. What trials did he use to allow this to form within you? Don't only make a note of the ways in which God empowered you to overcome a challenge, but think about who or what else he used to accomplish this. Were there people in your life who supported you who you never thought would? Did God use a particular verse to speak to you to calm and comfort your heart? Did he speak words of affirmation over you when you needed him the most? Sometimes, God overcomes challenges best through the still, small voice. Perhaps it's the Lord laying something upon your heart that he impressed you to do. How did you hear that? Through the Word? Through prayer? Through the counsel of trusted friends and mentors? Allow God to comfort you with all the people, opportunities, and gifts he gave you to equip you to overcome your greatest hurdles. 

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I want to get closer to God by…

How do you want to get closer to God this year? Simply going through the motions of reading the Word and prayer can't be enough to sustain us in this tumultuous world in which we live. In what ways would you like to see God become closer to you? Do you want to read the Word more? Pray more? Practice spiritual disciplines? All these things may require accountability. Find someone you trust to help keep you accountable in finding ways to utilize closeness with God. Ask him to help you analyze your day and figure out pockets of time you can use to get closer to the Lord. Sometimes, God delights in us and simply wants to speak to us just for our own benefit. Allow God to speak and see what he does with what he says. Bask in the joy of simply knowing a God who delights in sitting and being with us in our presence. 

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I'd like to become more like Christ this year by…

Now that you've celebrated the highs and lows of the year, think about ways in which you want to become more like God. What are other fruits of the spirit or character qualities we want him to develop within you? Often, we jump to deal with the surface issues of life—more money, less weight, better health. But sometimes, the best way we win for the year is to become calmer, more peaceful, more patient, and to develop perseverance when trials come our way. Ask God to reveal what he wants to do within you and write it down. Make a vow to go to it often to review what you wrote. Figure out ways you can create this Christ-like character within you. Life during the past year may not be easy. If you've had a great year, it may be easy to reflect on all the ways God has blessed you. Bask in that and write every blessing down. In the years when you have a tough season, you'll be able to go look back and see how God has worked. 

If it's been a difficult year, it may be hard for you to reflect on all the trials you've endured. Cry, and give praise and thanks to God. Write down every trial you've had to endure, even the ones you're still going through, and ask God to do miraculous things. Use these prompts to strengthen your faith as well as your intimate time with God.

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Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.