As the new year begins, do you find yourself filled with hope that this year will turn out to be the year you begin to make significant progress along your spiritual path? Or do you find yourself burdened with memories of past hopes for a productive new year that didn’t survive until Groundhog Day?
Maybe you have developed and even begun to implement a plan for overcoming negative thinking and unproductive behaviors. Or perhaps unpleasant memories of plans that didn’t work out are preventing you from trying one more time.
If you’re filled with hope, I invite you to consider a simple way to keep that hope alive and growing throughout the year. If you’ve just about given up hope, I invite you to try a simple way of rekindling your hope.
Many are familiar with Jesus’ promise that “the truth will make you free.” Not as many remember the statement that precedes the promise. Jesus says, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).
A disciple is someone who follows a prescribed set of practices known as a discipline for the purpose of learning a skill or growing in some other way. Discipline is not a very positive-sounding term to some people. The word brings up images of criticism and punishment. Jesus presents a more appealing image of discipline—“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,” Jesus invites, “for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:29-30).
Anyone who has not worked with oxen may never have seen a yoke. It is a kind of harness, used when oxen are pulling a plow or wagon. In the Bible, a yoke sometimes symbolizes severe discipline or oppression. Here, though, Jesus speaks not only of an easy yoke and a light burden. He also promises rest for our souls. I’ve always found that image appealing.
The yoke of which Jesus speaks is the discipline that leads to growing awareness of the divine nature we share with Him. The joy of discovering and learning to live from our awareness of this glorious truth can be ours without drudgery or painful effort. I believe the issue of Daily Word you’re reading right now can serve as a tool to help you follow a simple spiritual discipline. It can also be a key to the freedom of Spirit that comes when we “continue in the word.”
You and I can almost certainly find several periods of a minute or two each day to devote to a spiritual discipline based on Daily Word. Each day’s message and the monthly affirmations for inner peace, guidance, healing, prosperity, and world peace printed on the first page of every issue of the magazine can be life-changing.
Here’s how a typical day might unfold for you. As soon as you realize you’ve awakened, before even opening your eyes, allow yourself to feel God’s life quickening your body, preparing it for the day that is beginning. Feel God’s love, wisdom, and strength alive in you. Let yourself “rejoice and be glad” in this new day.
Sometime before beginning your daily activities, perhaps while drinking your morning coffee or orange juice, read the Daily Word message for the day. Daily Word messages are usually less than 150 words in length. You can read the message along with the accompanying verse of Scripture and reflect briefly on the affirmation several times in the moments it takes to drink a cup of coffee. Hear the echo of the Daily Word lesson as you drive to work or school. Or, if you travel by bus or train, you’ll have time to reflect more deeply on the message.
At the office or in the room where you spend the most time each day, set Daily Word on the corner of your desk or table. Even on the busiest days, you can find a minute or two to invest in reflecting again on the day’s lesson. Almost always, you can find a way to apply the lesson to a real-life situation at work or at home.
Then, begin your afternoons by focusing on the monthly affirmations on page one of each Daily Word issue. Speak the affirmations aloud, not only for yourself but also for others with whom you’re praying. A few minutes in prayer can make an afternoon more productive. Another few minutes of prayer using these same affirmations just before bedtime brings the day to a perfect conclusion.
As you “continue in the word” by following the simple prayer practice I’ve outlined here, you’ll very likely find that accomplishing the goals you’ve set for yourself will seem to require less effort. If you have stopped setting goals thinking that you lack the faith and strength to achieve them, I believe you’ll soon discover new hope, a new sense of purpose. Daily Word can help you establish a gentle, very satisfying prayer discipline that will lead you in experiencing new spiritual freedom and fulfillment.