How are you preparing for Christmas? At a time of year when it’s often difficult to slow down, use these Scriptures and prayers to create space each week—pause and remember the reasons we celebrate the birth of our Savior.
As you journey through Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas, beginning each week on a Sunday), enjoy the Christmas hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley. Let these four phrases from the hymn help prepare your heart with anticipation and celebration.
Week 1: “Born to set Thy people free”
People heard long before Jesus’ birth about a Messiah who would come and set captives free. This week, let’s celebrate salvation and the freedom we have in Christ because God sent His Son. It’s through His sacrificial life, death, and resurrection that we get to be with God forever.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” Isaiah 61:1 (NIV).
Prayer: Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus. I celebrate the abundant life and freedom you give me in Christ. I remember when I surrendered my life to you and received Jesus as Lord and Savior. Thank you for the gift of salvation.
Week 2: “Let us find our rest in Thee”
Would you say this season is more restful or restless? Often the things we think will bring us rest may only last temporarily. However, Jesus says to come to Him for rest. This week, ask Jesus about this rest and what it could look like in your life.
“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 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’” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV).
Prayer: Father, thank you for the rest I have in you. Will you show me how to find my renewal in you alone? I bring you those things in my life that feel so heavy. Show me how to give you my burdens.
Week 3: “Hope of all the earth Thou art”
Have you considered how Jesus’ birth was announced at night? Sometimes when things seem the darkest, God steps in with light and hope. How do you need God to step in and offer hope? Remember, this hope is not only for you, but for the whole earth. Consider sharing the hope you have in Jesus with a friend this week.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” Isaiah 9:2 (NIV).
“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40:31 (NIV).
Prayer: Father, thank you for stepping in when everything seems dark, especially through Jesus. Forgive me when I struggle to place all my hope in you alone. Help me to be renewed by your hope and be a light to those around me.
Week 4: “Joy of every longing heart”
We hear the word “joy” a lot around Christmastime. What does it mean for Jesus to be your joy? How does He fulfill your deepest longings? This week, explore with God how we have joy in Jesus today and also the ultimate joy we’ll have when we see Him face-to-face.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV).
Prayer: Father, thank you for your presence and how this is where I find true joy. Help me to understand how your joy outweighs my circumstances. Give me deeper insight into the joy experienced when I finally see you face-to-face and get to be with you forever.