I can’t believe we’re already so close to Christmas and the end of the year, that Advent begins this week! Whether you’re counting from the 1st of December or the 1st Sunday of Advent (2nd December), it’s time to start getting ready.
I have always loved Advent calendars. As a child we had a really cool advent calendar where each day we would stick a new character of the nativity scene onto the image, so that by Christmas Day you could finish the scene by adding baby Jesus into his crib!
This year, I decided I wanted to create my very own Advent Calendar. I had seen the idea for the shape of this calendar on Pinterest, but I had a few adaptations I wanted to make. I also thought it would be a cool idea to put together a couple of challenges for myself (and anyone who wants to join me!) to help me use this time of preparation and excitement to pray, read the Bible and reflect upon the Christmas story.
So, in this blog I want to share with you how I made my Advent Calendar; how I am going to use it and (as your Advent present for this year) downloadable PDFs of my Advent challenges!
Whether you want to include these challenges in your Advent countdown this year or not, I will also be sharing these challenges across my social media for you all to get involved in (so be sure you’re following me on Facebook or Instagram!).
Making the Advent Calendar!
- Gather 24 or 25 toilet rolls that ideally are the same shape and size.
- Paint 21 of the toilet rolls green inside and out. I found this easiest to do in two stages so that I could still hold the end of the toilet roll.
- Staple or glue the toilet rolls together in the shape of a Christmas tree. Create a triangle shape using the 21 green rolls then use the 3 or 4 extras as the base. I ended up using double sided tape to hold the rows together and PVA glue to stick them on top of each other.
- Cut out 24-25 circles of coloured card, just smaller than the end of the toilet roll, and write on the numbers 1-24/25.
- Attach the circles to the front of each toilet roll by using a hole punch the create a hole in the top of the circle, threading some wool, string or twine through the hole and attaching it to the top of the toilet roll.
What is inside my Advent Calendar?
Now we get to the fun stuff! In each toilet roll, I will be including slips of paper from each of my advent challenges. For this year, I have chosen to create a prayer challenge, giving me something specific to pray for each day; a Bible reading challenge, to get me to read through the Christmas story and some of the prophecies that spoke about Jesus, in the lead up to Christmas Day; and a Scripture writing challenge, a new one for me but I hope this will encourage me to really focus and meditate upon a specific Bible verse each day.
Don’t worry, alongside these challenges, each day will also have a chocolate for each of us, or a clue to guide Robin to the location of the chocolate!!
My Advent Challenges!
You can download the PDF of each of my challenges here or find the prayer challenge written out below for you to copy from.
Arnold’s Advent Prayer Challenge!
- Praise! – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” – Deuteronomy 6:4 There is one God, and he should be our number one priority. Let’s take time today to praise him for all he has done.
- Marriage – In marriage, God brings two people together to glorify him and serve each other in love. Today, let’s pray for marriages across the world – maybe your own, your parents or any other married couples you know.
- Family – For many people, Christmas is a season for spending time with family. Today, pray for your family members. Also take time to pray for those who cannot be with their family this Christmas.
- Mental Health – Mental Health issues affect so many people, and can have huge consequences. Each year, 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health issue (Mind). Let’s pray for those who are currently suffering: pray for healing, pray for effective treatment and pray for those who are caring for them.
- Persecutors – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Matthew 5:44 In Matthew 5, Jesus challenges us to pray for those who persecute you. This can be a huge challenge but today let’s pray for those who persecute. The bullies, the dictators, those who hurt us. Pray that God will soften their hearts and they will change their ways to act more lovingly.
- Your Anxieties – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6 God wants to hear about our needs and the things that are worrying us. Tell God about your worries and the situations you are in, pass your anxieties to him.
- Your Church – The 7th day of the week (Sunday) is the traditional day for attending church services. Spend time today praying for your church, its leaders and all the ministries they are involved in throughout the week.
- The Persecuted Church – So many Christians around the world are persecuted for believing in God. Today let’s pray for those counties, especially Iraq which has been ranked the 8th hardest country to be a Christian by Open Doors.
- Loneliness – Over 9 million people in the UK said they were always or often lonely (Co-Op and Red Cross). Pray for all the lonely people in our world, especially those who will be celebrating Christmas alone this year.
- The Government – Today, let’s pray for all that happens at 10 Downing Street; for our Prime Minister; for our local MPs. We pray they will make wise and loving decisions that serve all people.
- Peace – Today marks one month since the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War. Let’s continue to pray for peace around the world and an end to all violence and conflict.
- Friends – Today, let’s pray for our friendships, that we can be good friends to others and continue to build relationships with new people that we meet.
- Avoiding temptation – Read Luke 4:1-13. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was tempted 3 times in the wilderness by the devil. Take time to pray for protection against temptations, that God will give us the strength to withstand temptation.
- Schools and Colleges – In the UK we spend 14 years in education from Year R to the end of college. Let’s pray for our local schools and all those in education.
- Mission – “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:15 Today, take time to pray for all those sharing the gospel around the world. Pray for missionaries and all those who support them to bring the good news to those who have never heard it.
- Confidence sharing our faith – “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” – Mark 16:15 We should also be sharing our faith with others. Ask God to give you confidence in talking to others about him and your faith.
- The Homeless – Those sleeping on the streets are 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. Today, we are praying for all those who are homeless. Pray that they will find somewhere warm and safe to stay, especially over the cold winter months. Pray that they will be supported to find permanent housing.
- Younger Generations – Young people are so important and have so much to teach us. Let’s take time to pray for all those younger than us – that they will be healthy, safe, happy and grow in their faith.
- Praise! – “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name”. Spend time today praising God – you could use worship music, journaling or just talking to God about all the great things he has done.
- God’s Will – “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. Let’s pray for God’s will to be done on earth and in our lives. Spend time listening for God’s voice.
- Forgiveness – “Forgive us our sins”. Take time to think of the things you have done that are not God’s will. Confess these to God and ask for his forgiveness.
- Forgive Others – “As we forgive those who sin against us”. We need to ensure that we forgive those who hurt us. Reflect upon those who you need to forgive and ask God to show you who they are.
- Non-Christians – As we draw closer to Christmas, let’s pray for those who do not know God. Check out my blog looking at 5 things to pray for non-Christians here.
- Thank you! – Gratitude is so important. Before the business of Christmas Day tomorrow, take time out today to thank God for this wonderful time of celebration and for coming to earth as a baby!