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How One Word Can Change Your Devotion Time

In January 2018 and 2019, a lot of people abandoned New Year's resolutions in favor of a single word that would influence everything they did that year.

People picked words like intentional and brave and content. (Of course, this word was strategically doodled and then explained in a lengthy Instagram post.) The idea was that every thought and action that year should be positioned toward that word:

Quitting your job and starting your own business? Be brave.

Considering buying new shoes that you don't really need? Be content.

Saying "yes" to every opportunity that comes your way? Be intentional.

One word, supposedly, changes your entire year. It's a broader resolution to modify not just one area of your life—like vowing to lose ten pounds or read more books—but everything you do, whether physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially, or economically.

But what if one word could change something smaller and more meaningful, like your devotion time?

You might think that studying a single word seems like something only a literary analysis nerd would do (and that's definitely not me, nope, no way), but choosing to meditate on one word from your daily Bible reading or devotion can do a lot for your time spent in the Word:

  • Deepen your understanding of a passage's meaning and context
  • Reveal a sin you didn't realize you struggle with
  • Inspire you to take action

If you're intimidated or think this will involve some deep thinking that's way out of your league, think again. Want to dig into the etymology and translation of a specific word? Go for it. But if you just want to doodle a word and think about it for fifteen minutes, that's good too.

However you want to do it, here are some steps to incorporate just one word into your daily devotion time.

Choose your word

Whether you use a daily devotional like Portals of Prayer or read a passage straight from God's Word every day, choose a significant word from your reading. It can be a word you don't know, a word you want to know the original Greek or Hebrew meaning of, a word that convicts you, a word that moves you, a word that stands out, or a word that's repeated in the passage.

Look it up

Use a reputable dictionary website and look up the definition of your chosen word. If there are multiple definitions, which one fits the context of the passage best?

Find out where else this word is used in Scripture using a digital Bible or a concordance. Does reading other verses help you understand this word better? Does it change how you read the verse?

If you're looking for a more inductive study, find a site that uses Strong's Concordance to provide Greek or Hebrew translations and exact definitions of the word. Although contemporary Bibles are accurate translations, subtle meaning can be lost. (For example, English only has one word for love, but Greek has four.)

Write it out

This will look different for everyone. You might journal a few paragraphs about what you learned in your word study, something you're convicted of, or what this word inspired you to do.

Or if you're feeling creative, you might doodle the word a few different ways while you spend some time praying and meditating. Choose writing and colors that reflect the meaning of the word.

If you want to memorize the verse(s) your chosen word is in, write out the verse on a note card in your best handwriting and hang it on your mirror or fridge (whichever you look at more).


Download the free Portals of Prayer Calendar to write, doodle, or draw a picture representing your word of the day in each box.

(And be sure to tag @portalsofprayer in your Instagram photos of your word study!)

Download Calendar

Written by

Hannah Osborne

Hannah has been writing, editing, and whistling while she works at CPH since 2016. Growing up in the self-proclaimed bagel capital of the world gave her a deep appreciation of carbs, although nowadays you’ll find her experimenting with vegan recipes in the kitchen, running really slowly, or laughing too loudly.

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