word of the year Sometimes a single word can change everything. When I learned about the concept of a God-given “Word of the Year” in 2008, I took it to heart and started asking God for a single word theme for the new year.

word of the year

The word He gave me was “hold” and it really took hold of me that year. It was so meaningful to me that I have continued to seek a new word from God every year. In fact, it’s been life changing for me in a huge way.

God Gives a Word

In choosing a word, this article by Dan Britton is helpful. Dan cautions us not to “try to approach the one-word theme as just another goal,” or to “look at it as a task on your to do list. You must see it, rather, as a journey.”

It’s not a New Year’s resolution, and has never been a command for me to try to follow. It’s more like a gift from God.

I always take my time, prayerfully asking, listening carefully, and then looking for ways that God confirms the selection of it. It isn’t necessarily a favorite word, or an obvious one. It usually takes me by surprise.

Although several words may be considered, I wait to see which one stays with me over time and begins to speak to me. Usually it starts showing up in scriptures every day, but not necessarily.

A friend was given the word “float,” and I had to laugh. I was imagining a fisherman in an inner tube! But the image that came up when we Googled “float” was of a beautiful, billowy boat/bed beside a sea of tranquility.

Little did we know it, but that year her husband would leave her, and this special word would help her “float” with God through the difficulties.

The Word is all Around

Once I have a single word from God, I start noticing it all around me. In order to keep track of what I felt God was saying to me, I kept a notebook devoted only to the word “hold” and underlined it often in my Bible.

Derivatives of the word starting popping out from the page too, and I started writing them down as well. I had never realized how many ways this word could be used, and began to take note of it from scripture, books, newspapers, spoken messages, on Facebook, in blogs and in everyday conversation.

My words for the following years were “way,” “trust” and “refuge.” Each one of these has a variety of ways it can be used in the English language. Note these amazing excerpts of variety and depth from my notebooks:

  • Hold
    Hold on, hold fast, hold onto, take hold, strongholds, withholding, uphold, behold, held together, to have and to hold, lives on hold, hold back, hold a grudge, hold the faith, hold up in prayer, hold together, lay hold of, hold your ground, the hold of a ship
  • Way
    God’s ways, man’s ways, the way, truth and life; highways, the way of a mother with a child, away in a manger, examine your ways, followers of The Way, prepare the way, always, anyways, way-out, wayfarer, waylaid, way of all flesh, way of the cross, way to go!
  • Trust
    Trust God, entrust, mistrust, living trusts, distrust, trusting, trust account, worthy of trust, trust in Him, trust Him, trust you, lack of trust, trustee, trustful, trustworthy, trusty
  • Refuge
    Take refuge, a refuge, elk refuge, refugee camp, national wildlife refuge, refugee, refuges, refuged, refugium

Although I sought single words from God, He always expanded them in huge ways in order to get His full message across to me each year. He took me in directions I never expected to go with those words.

He’s Growing Me

I find myself growing in a desire to hear God’s specific word to me. I don’t want to be led by theology or rules; I want to be led by the very voice of God Himself. It’s a very special moment, indeed, when I know God is speaking personally to me.

By the end of each year I find that I have grown spiritually, my eyes and ears are alert when I hear my special word, and I know God has brought me through the year in a very special, personal way.

In addition, all of the combined phrases I’ve written down in my notebooks have given me an even greater word, or theme.

I also noticed, surprisingly, that each of my words have been used progressively in my life, taking me one step further in my journey of drawing nearer to God. I had to hold onto Him more deeply before I could understand His ways; then I was in a position to start trusting Him more once I understood Him better.

The result this year is that I have been in a warm place of refuge, having grown so much closer to Him in the previous three years. I have not been anxious about anything in this place of refuge. I can only imagine what He has for me next year.

How does God reveal your word to you typically? In reading your comments to this topic in the past, one person said he would “seek a word to help keep him anchored the next year.” One person has kept this beautiful record of her word on Pinterest.

What is your word for 2013?

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  1. Dec 17, 2012
    at 5:49 am

    Thank you for this article and creative idea! I always take time around Dec. to reflect and get refreshed before the new year so I am totally going to pray for God to provide a ‘word’ between us for 2013! :)

    • Dec 28, 2012
      at 6:44 am

      Do you have your word yet?

      • Dec 28, 2012
        at 9:33 am

        Actually, no. I’ve been praying about it alot…some come up but nothing strongly enough that I know it’s the word. I’ll just have to stay open. If God gives me a word then I’ll be thrilled…if He doesn’t then I’ll just trust that maybe, this year, He’s got some other direction or ideas for me :)

        • Dec 29, 2012
          at 9:25 am

          The first year I couldn’t tell if it was me choosing a word of God laying it on my heart – I still don’t know. But I figure that if I sincerely ask God to teach me and grow me, He will – regardless of the word and regardless of who chose it.

          This year I consistently found myself wishing I could eliminate the need to hurry and that’s how I felt God was revealing my word for 2013 – slow.

  2. Stephanie Green
    Dec 17, 2012
    at 9:29 am

    I’m so glad you posted this, as I’ve enjoyed waiting on “my word” to be given to me over the last few years. I always enjoy reading this post at year’s end on the blog and seeing what other words will be guiding fellow sponsors. My word for 2013, which came to me a few weeks ago, is INTENTIONAL.and it is the way in which I hope to pray, love, act in the new year.

  3. Dec 17, 2012
    at 12:51 pm

    2012 was my third year doing this and I’ve loved seeing how God connects my words from year to year.

    2010 – LOVE
    2011 – QUIET (Zephaniah 3:17 was a key verse for me – God would quiet me with his love)
    2012 – LISTEN – Once God had quieted me with His love, I was ready to listen.

    I’ve been sensing for a couple weeks that my word for 2013 is SLOW.

    • Dec 28, 2012
      at 6:47 am

      I love this word! It will be interesting to see how it plays out for you!

    • Sheri Beck
      Dec 31, 2012
      at 6:53 pm

      Jill,
      Why did the word “slow” make me laugh? Does my reaction mean anything to you? Great word! Blessings to you friend!
      Love,
      sb

  4. Mike Stephens
    Dec 17, 2012
    at 6:41 pm

    2010-second (like go the 2nd mile with the Roman soldier)
    2011-second again
    2012-second again
    2013-fix (as in Philippians 4:8 “fix your mind on these things” amplified bible version I believe ;)

  5. Mike Stephens
    Dec 17, 2012
    at 6:43 pm

    sorry I want two words for 2013…AWESOME as in “OUR GOD is an AWESOME GOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDDD!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ou5T1WwlAU

  6. solo veanlo
    Dec 17, 2012
    at 9:25 pm

    Y queria decir que me gusta lo que hacen por los niños del mundo.

  7. Tondja Woods
    Dec 18, 2012
    at 5:19 am

    Winston-Salem, NC

    HE is AWESOME

  8. Charles Brown
    Dec 18, 2012
    at 5:14 pm

    Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,… He (Jesus the Son) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…
    (Hebrews 1:1-3a ESV)

    This is the Word of God that came to mind when reading this article. Before the completion of the Bible God gave His word through people called prophets and that word was with out error, authoritative, and binding in such a way that it was a sin to disobey it. As the passage teaches God used to do this until He sent His Son “the exact imprint of his nature,” the fullness of the revelation in God. God’s word now comes to us through the Scripture and the Scripture alone. To read or hear the Scripture is to hear God’s word. The Bible is sufficient for the Christian (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

    Where is the one place that we can go to hear God’s word 100% of the time? Well, God’s Word (the Bible).

  9. Ariel Hessing
    Dec 19, 2012
    at 1:45 pm

    Compassion International has become one of the largest charities in the U.S. in recent years. Their mission is unique and powerful; the idea of sponsoring individual children. I run competitive road races exclusively on behalf of major charities, and recently I gained sponsorship for donations to go to Compassion International for a race that I will be running for in Spring 2013, the Pittsburgh Marathon. I’m looking forward to race day.

    • Dec 28, 2012
      at 6:52 am

      The race sounds wonderful & I’m glad you chose to help children in need!

  10. Jacquie Parella
    Dec 26, 2012
    at 8:32 am

    The word the Lord gave me for 2013…. flexible. This is going to be an interesting year!

  11. Dec 27, 2012
    at 9:40 pm

    As I prepare to start college in January, we plan to move in the next few years, and also as we raise funds to go to the Dominican Republic in November of 2013 as part of a sponsor tour, I have felt the Lord impress on my heart the word “Faith” in the past couple months. After some rough circumstances and trying days, I began really seeing this word manifest in my life daily. Through God providing answers to prayers, my devotions, ETC, the word “Faith” became obviously apparent. I remembered the “One word” challenge, and have decided my word for 2013 will be faith. I have never done this before, so I’m excited to see how the Lord grows and stretches me in the year to come! I pray that my faith will grow, and I pray I will continually look for this word in every day life.

  12. Dec 28, 2012
    at 6:55 am

    This sounds great, and what a powerful word! You will enjoy this throughout the year as your faith and understanding of the word grows throughout the year.

  13. Dec 29, 2012
    at 4:52 pm

    working on my blog post with my word.

    2011~ Mercy
    2012~ Grace
    with this world… Grace came so much. Much needed Grace and much needed to extend Grace…. and then God gave us Neema (our newly sponsored child) her name means Grace in Swahili (didn’t know this when we got her).

    This year…. God has been impressing on me for a couple weeks…
    PEACE~

    Thanks for sharing…..

    • Dec 29, 2012
      at 5:42 pm

      Sounds like a good one for 2013 & I love hearing about how God used your previous words!

  14. Dec 30, 2012
    at 6:20 pm

    Hi Juli, Thank you for this post. I ran across it when doing my own blog post about resolutions for 2013 and it gave me some needed food for thought. I also linked to it. THANK YOU. And wishing you many blessings for 2013.

  15. […] have seen several suggestions that we create a “word for the year” such as this post and any number of boards on Pinterest, such as this one from Mary Nelson-Huffman, whose word is […]

  16. Dec 30, 2012
    at 7:49 pm

    Hi Juli, here’s the post where I linked to you! http://biggreenpen.com/2012/12/30/2013-getting-out-of-the-box/ Thanks, Paula

  17. […] A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post about choosing just one word for the  new year. […]

  18. […] What’s Your Word of the Year for 2013?. […]

  19. Jan 4, 2013
    at 12:34 pm

    My word is present.

    I wrote a blog post about it. http://theknightfive.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/whats-your-word/

  20. Claire
    Feb 4, 2013
    at 10:38 am

    consistency … oddly I have felt this was a message God has been giving me but had never heard of the ‘One word’ idea… very excited to see God’s work over the next year!

  21. Paula
    Mar 26, 2013
    at 8:47 am

    God has been telling me the word “Hold” also but in phrases, I was searching one of the phrases and I seen your website! Confirmation! Here is what He has been telling me …. “Hold Daddy at the door” (our Heavenly Father is our Daddy) “Hold the sea” “Hold the lady at the door” “Hold your call” “Hold your sword” … Hold the sea is what I was searching on the Internet this morning and I believe God is telling us that whatever is cast in the sea that we should not be bringing back out of the sea, to leave it there! Whether it be our sins, sickness, troubles, ect , that once it has been thrown to the sea…. We should leave it in the sea of forgetfulness to never be brought back again, especially with our tongue!

  22. Sandra Alba Firaben
    Dec 5, 2013
    at 8:08 am

    When Jacob ran away from his enraged brother, he went to sleep in a land that seemed desolate. But, after dreaming about heaven and God’s promise of His presence, he woke up and thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Gen. 28:11-16
    The Lord has been reminding me of the importance of been aware of His presence at all times, of His promises, of His power, of His grace, of His majesty, of His everlasting love… So my word for 2014 is awareness.

    • Dec 5, 2013
      at 1:42 pm

      Thanks for sharing — this will be eye-opening for sure!

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