One word can shape a whole year. I’ve written about this before. The concept of having one prayer/focus word for the year has been unfolding in my life for about a decade now.

The idea comes from the work of Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen in their book from 2012, My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word One word helps to focus us in our world of way-too-many words. It gives us a prayer guide in a way. I believe it helps to open our eyes to all the possibilities which can come if we look at life through our word of the year. One word can replace all your new year’s resolutions as this exercise helps you to clarify and concentrate.

I used to get my word through a prayer exercise. I asked God to give me a list of words and then I just prayed over them until one popped out as right. There are even one-word generators online. In the last several years, I’ve asked my clergy friend, Rev. Jenn Pick, for a word as she gives a word to each member of her congregation in Mexia, Texas. She told me that she has all these words in one of the sacred spaces in her life and that she will pray on behalf of the person and ask God to show her a word for them.

Then she passes it along with this bit of loveliness, _____________________is your star gift (she ties it to the Light of Epiphany) for 2022. Ponder this word in your heart. Let it unfold the new possibilities that await you. Trusting God, Light from Light Eternal, let this star guide you on your journey.

Every year when I get my word from her, I always think it will not suffice for the year ahead. I tell myself it is a strange word and probably not the right one for me. Every year, I am wrong.

Last year in 2021 my star word was Time. What in the world is that kind of word for a year? It turned out to be perfect for 2021. The first part of my year was River Time, where I was asked to help care for my infant grandson when his parents returned to work in a pandemic. Then it was a Resume Speaking Time when the world opened up in what we thought was our post-pandemic time and I resumed some of my treasured speaking events. I happily filled my calendar (to my liking) with events, weddings and preaching opportunities. We planned Family Time. And then to my great surprise, I entered into a Time of Pain. My hip had degenerated, and I needed a full hip replacement but had to wait three agonizing months. All those speaking events got subtracted, against my will. It was a Time of Extreme Slowing/Stopping/Waiting. Interestingly, this time paralleled a Time of Stress in our family where many things were extra hard. Finally, I entered the Time of Healing after surgery when the pain had purpose and my life was filled with physical therapy and getting stronger.

Did the one word create these scenarios for me in 2021? No. Did it focus me during each of them? Yes. Whenever I wanted to jump ahead or escape the season I was in, my word reminded me to stop and embrace only that particular time.

I reached out to my friend, Rev. Jenn, right after the holidays this year asking her, are you giving out star words for 2022? Can you spare one for me?

The word came back quickly: Your star word for 2022 is Invitation. As always, I wondered if she’d maybe given me someone else’s word. What kind of word is that for a year? Invitation? Should I reject this word and request a better one?

Then, God begins stirring. Maybe God will invite me to something new this year. We are having a family wedding in September, maybe that is what this is about, inviting friends and family to celebrate. Will I be invited to change in 2022? Will I invite someone to join me in a new kind of ministry? Will I be invited to another new season of some sort?

As it is with all the things in my life, this is in God’s hands, waiting to unfold. What I’ve learned, God is always faithful, always surprising, always stretching me toward a bigger Love and Light than I can ever imagine.

What about you? Do you have a star word for 2022? I asked my friend Jenn if she would share a word with my blog readers. She said yes! Email her at Tell her Cindy said….

God, you’ve always been able to move mountains and change lives with just one word. Why are we surprised? As this new year begins, we open ourselves to the word you have for us, remembering this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

A quick update on me if you read last week’s blog on scary mountains. I’m sorry I was cryptic. The mountains are of the nature I could not share any details publicly. I will say none of this had to do, thankfully, with my health. I am doing great and even focusing on some preventative/proactive health goals for 2022. I’m sorry if I worried some of you about me. As I told one person who reached out, I’m so glad we can pray for each other’s mystery mountains without always knowing the details. I will invite you all to continue to pray for our military.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor, Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. To read more blogs, see upcoming speaking events or to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle monthly email, go to

4 thoughts on “Invitation”

  1. Our Soul Sisters Bible study does the My One Word each year, at the beginning of the year. Last year I had Jenn Pick select a word for me, and it was “Release”. I was scared, because I’ve had that word before!! I had picked that word for myself in 2015, and it sure didn’t work out like I had envisioned!! I’m sure God was having a good laugh at my getting it again. Since, apparently, I didn’t “get it” the first time.

    I start praying for my word, and it always comes to be at the first of the year, through one or usually, multiple messages. This year my word is “Accept”, and I reluctantly “accept” that word. And I know it will bring challenges, because…. I don’t like to “Accept”!!! I want to CONTROL, or CHANGE….myself or my situation.. But this speaks loudly to me.

    I do pray for our military every day, my son will be exiting the Army this Spring, and moving to whatever new adventure he finds. Army families need our prayers as well. When one serves, the whole family serves. I’ve learned that. I pray for Graham, that this will lead him to where he wants to go with his life.

    As always, great words and wisdom from you!! Treasured much.

    Julie ________________________________

  2. Invitation-lovely word for you-I see it blooming all around you even with mountains ahead! Praying for you and those mountains.

  3. Thanks, Cindy! I’m searching for my word – praying it will be revealed soon:-) Blessings to you and your family in the new year!

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