During this time of pandemic, it can be very easy to feel distanced from others and from God as we observe social distancing and spend more and more time at home. But, despite the obstacles, this can be a time where we draw near to the Lord, seeking his strength and comfort to get us through. These little habits can be exactly what we need to build up our faith and pave the way for the new year. We can look forward with hope, knowing that the Lord specializes in new mornings and new mercies. And we can build up our relationship with him along the way.

Dig Into the Bible

Schedules can be hectic, especially during the holiday season. But, if we carve out some time to be in the Word, the chaos will transform our whole world. This can be during the morning before the day’s activities are in full swing or at night when we get a few moments of alone time. Spending time reading the Bible is one of the best ways we can get to know God better and grow in our understanding of him. The more time we spend in Scripture, the more that our hearts are transformed. If the idea of reading the Bible alone intimidates you, it’s okay! There are many resources to help you begin. Bible studies and devotionals can be great tools to get you started. But at the end of the day, all you really need is a willing heart and a Bible. As you seek God, you will be amazed at the new ways he reveals himself to you.

Try Your Hand at Some Scripture Memorization

I will admit that this is a new discipline for me. I never did much Bible verse memorization until a few years ago. But I have found that the more Scripture I know, the more I can call on it when I am scared, sad, stressed, or anything in between. When I pour Scripture into my heart, it is the first thing that comes to mind when I am in need of help and guidance. Like an old friend, God’s Word whispers to me at exactly the right times. The Holy Spirit as our helper speaks through the Scriptures to our souls. There are many ways to get started: You can write out the verses by hand in a journal or make note cards. For those looking to redeem some of their screen time, there are also scripture memorization apps that have been immensely helpful to me in my Scripture memory journey.

Lean Into Prayer

Prayer is a challenging discipline. Personally, I have found that I am very “all-or-nothing” when it comes to prayer. Prayer is a hard habit to form and an easy one to break if we are not careful. Yet, prayer is one of the best gifts God gives his children to connect with him and to build a relationship with him. We can cast all our worries and anxieties on him (1 Peter 5:7). Not only that, but we are encouraged to pray in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Prayer gives us an audience with our God where we can pour out everything on our hearts and minds: our requests, doubts, frustrations, fears, praises. Nothing is off the table. And, while prayer may not always change our situation, it will always change the posture of our hearts.

Finding New Ways to Fellowship With Other Believers

In this season, it is much harder to come together in community. With church services being online and social gatherings being distanced and limited, it is more important than ever to find ways to stay connected to our church families. Some helpful ways to do this include prayer text chains, Zoom Bible studies, or even setting up a phone call after you watch the church service to discuss it with a loved one. While nothing can replace face-to-face interaction, we can find new and unique ways to bond, to pray together, and to do life together while we wait for things to return to some sense of normalcy.

2020 may feel like being in the wilderness, but we can be comforted by reading about God’s faithfulness to his people in times of uncertainty and fear. We can focus on memorizing Scripture that speaks to the ache, the sadness, and the loss we have felt this year. We can be honest and vulnerable in our prayer time with him, pouring our hearts out to him and crying out for our hurting friends and neighbors. And we can cling to one another in community, encouraging one another to keep leaning into the Lord.

These disciplines have always been important, but in times like these, they are absolutely vital. While this year as a whole may look like loss, we can find comfort in gaining a deeper relationship with God as we walk through it together.

Liz Newman