What will make this Christmas season more meaningful for you? A visit from family? A favorite Christmas song? A children’s program at church? Something else?

Whatever your answer(s) may be, a sure-fire way to make the countdown to Christmas more meaningful is prayer. There is no better time to turn your heart to prayer than this season leading up to the celebration of the Incarnation. So here is a list of 20 Christmas prayer prompts to follow, one each day perhaps, to point your heart to the Bethlehem manger:

1.  Give thanks for the joys of family and friends this season.

2.  Ask God to “close the doors of hate and open the doors of love” this Christmas (from a prayer by Henry Van Dyke).

3.  Give thanks for your favorite Christmas carol.

4.  Pray for Salvation Army bell ringers and others who help the needy during this special season.

5.  Pray for gifts you give to be well chosen and well received.

6.  Give thanks for your favorite fragrances of the season.

7.  Pray for those who are lonely this holiday season—widows, widowers, invalids, etc.

8.  Give thanks for the Gospel writers—Matthew and Luke—who recorded the story of Jesus’ birth.

9.  Pray for those who will be working over the holidays—police, firefighters, hospital and nursing home staff, etc.

10. Give thanks to Jesus, who though He was rich, for your sake became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9).

11. Pray to be shielded from the noise, turmoil and empty promises of the season.

12. Ask God to protect and deliver those who must celebrate Christmas amid persecution and oppression.

13. Give thanks for your favorite Christmas movie.

14. Pray for the children you know and love to grasp the true meaning and blessing of Christmas.

15. Pray for health and strength to meet the demands of Christmas week.

16. Pray for refugees, immigrants and other travelers who will be far from home at Christmas.

17. Give thanks for the obedience of Mary, who submitted to the privilege and challenge of giving birth to God’s Son.

18. Give thanks for the faith of Joseph, who believed the angelic message and provided and cared for Mary and Jesus amid bewildering circumstances.

19. Give thanks for your favorite holiday foods. 

20. Ask God to make your Christmas celebration reflect the beauty and wonder of the first Christmas and for the miracle of the Incarnation—“God with us”—to be a reality in you and those you love. 

Feel free to adjust or add to the list above. You may even want to print it and post it on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror to prompt a different prayer each day between now and Christmas. Or you may come up with a list that is all your own. Whatever you do, let it move your mind and heart closer to Jesus.