Christmas is my favourite time of the year – I love the food, the John Lewis adverts, the family traditions, and the opportunities it brings to increase faith and speak out about Jesus. The beginning of Christmas is marked by Advent (when we get to have chocolate every day for breakfast) and maybe this year, Advent can also mark the start of a new tradition for you in your prayer life.
Before we get onto some suggestions of ways you can pray, it first might be helpful to understand what Advent really means. To get technical, the word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin word adventus, which means ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’. Advent is all about preparing for Jesus to come. It is a reminder of the promise from God that a messiah would be born, and an opportunity to thank Jesus for His life and sacrifice, and a time to remember the promise that Jesus will come again one day.
Habits of prayer are built over time, and this year, Advent could be just the challenge you need! It’s a wonderful opportunity to start a rhythm of prayer for the first time and discover the joy of a routine, or simply to pursue a deeper relationship with Him.
Here are five suggestions that might help kick start your prayer routine this Advent:
The cost of living is rising, and so many of our neighbours are struggling. However, there are also many people and churches who are fighting against poverty through running pantries, foodbanks or giving out hampers. You could support one of these projects by adding an item of non-perishable food or hygiene products to a box every day during advent. As you do this, spend some time praying for the people in your community who are using the pantries. After Christmas you can then give this to a foodbank.
Prayer is a two-way conversation, and one of the best ways we can pray is alongside reading the Bible, creating space for him to speak to us The Bible App has a variety of Advent Bible plans that you can follow and read, or, of course, you can pray the Bible every day using the Lectio 365 app.
We all have friends, family, and neighbours who sadly don’t yet know Jesus, and I know I don’t pray for them enough. So, this year could you pray for a non-Christian friend every day? You can pray for a few things: that they will encounter Jesus; that they might attend an event that your church is running – like a carol service; or that you have a good conversation with them about Jesus before the end of 2023.
Check out our prayer list app, Inner Room, for more help with praying for people in your life.
This year we have possibly the most controversial World Cup happening in Qatar, and it has opened people’s eyes to many injustices happening across the world. So why not pray as they play? It is such a privilege to get to pray for other nations, especially as there are at least seven teams playing in this World Cup who represent nations where Christians experience persecution. We can pray for our brothers and sisters in these countries, that God will protect and strengthen them.
Not only do you get to pray with this one, but also get to make a Christmas decoration for your home. Every day, on a thin strip of paper you can write what you are praying for – this could be 3 things a day you are thankful for, people you’re interceding for, charities you support, your church, and more.
After you have finished praying, glue, tape, or staple both ends of the paper together to make a loop. The next day, put the paper through the first loop and then stick it together to make a chain, and keep repeating this every day to end up with a paper prayer chain around your home.
I hope this has inspired you with some fresh ideas for ways to pray around Advent. This season offers a real opportunity to meet with God in a special way!
For more ideas on how to get praying with your family and your community in the run-up to Christmas, check out our Advent resources page.