A Prayer for Continuous Joy

A Prayer for Continuous Joy
By Jessica Van Roekel

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

I know what it’s like to feel joyless during dark gray days. Midwest winters blanket my world with snow and muted skies, and I can feel the joy seep out of me. I try to catch it, but it’s like trying to hold water in my bare hands. It seems like joy plays hide and seek and I cannot find it. I grow irritable, which doesn’t help me feel joyous. I think it will return when Spring comes, the barren ground turns green, and the sky transitions to brilliant blue, but joy is not dependent on the seasons.

We grow frustrated when we attempt to conjure joy in our strength. It feels fake and we develop an incorrect view of Biblical joy. God is full of joy and delights to share it with us, but how do we grow joy in our lives? How do we stop relying on ourselves and our circumstances to dictate its presence in our lives? I’m a failed gardener. I dreamed of having a beautiful flower bed, but the weeds won. Except for one plant—a pink yarrow. It grew profusely, spread beyond the flower bed and into the grass. Its soft, feathery leaves remind me it will grow no matter what I do to it. John 15:1-17 tells us that to bear fruit we must abide in Jesus. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and abiding in Jesus is the key to joy.

It’s easy to judge our lives based on what our physical eyes see and then feel disappointed when we don’t see what we want to see. But so much of the good God grows in our lives happens below the surface of what our eyes can see. It’s a change that occurs when we yield to the Holy Spirit and choose to stay attached to the vine. We can trust God’s process of transformation to bear fruit, including joy, even when life feels joyless. It’s in this place of abiding where we find the most complete joy we could ever know. We do not drift into spiritual maturity. We determine to cooperate with the power of God that is within us. Jesus asks us to obey, remain in him, and love. As we do these things, his joy becomes complete in us.

Life is full of trouble, agony, and sorrow, but it’s also filled with beauty, fun, and laughter. To live life with joy, we must cultivate its fruit in our lives by abiding in the Lord. It’s absorbing all our nutrients for spiritual growth from him and allowing him to prune us where we need pruning. We can practice joy by focusing on God’s heart for us. The Lord longs to grow, guide, and produce joy in us Choosing joy may be hard at first, but when we persist in it, we will see God turn what is bitter into sweet. You can be the brightest gift to those around you because of the joy that’s within you.

The Greek word for joy is chara. This means a strong inner sense of gladness that is not based on circumstances, but on the love, grace, blessings, promises, and nearness of God to those who belong to him through Jesus Christ. On long winter days when darkness pierces the day and my heart, I remember God. I remember how he loves me and how he is near me. I remember his grace and mercy. I remember he is kind, and he is my refuge and strength. This fills me with the kind of joy that anchors my heart and keeps me secure through the days of darkness.

Let’s pray:

Holy God,
Fill me with your joy today. Let me know the rooted, inner kind of gladness that comes from abiding in you. You keep me secure when my world crashes down. You shower me with undeserved grace when I fail. Your joy makes me complete. Let me rest in you and allow you to do your work in me so that joy grows as fruit in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Prayer for the One Feeling Overwhelmed

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27, NIV

Life is too short to be anxious and constantly bent out of shape. And even more, I’m convinced when I allow my life to become like that, that Jesus didn’t want it to be this way.

When Jesus was having one of several final conversations with His disciples before His death and resurrection, He said the words from our key verse. He wanted them to know He was leaving them, but He didn’t want them to live in a state of panic. He knew their life would be hard, but He didn’t want them to think that He had abandoned them. He acknowledged that they would miss His presence, but He wanted them to know that He would give them His presence in a new way, and with it, they would also have His peace (John 14:25-28).

I love that Jesus took the time to compare His peace to the false sense of peace that the world gives us. You see, the world says to have peace, you have to be on a luxurious vacation in Malibu. Or to have peace, you have to have complete financial security, a great job, and a 401k to boot. The world says that you’ll finally have peace when your life looks like someone else’s Instagram feed.

This world offers fake peace that leaves us chasing a moving target. Jesus said you will have peace when you have my Spirit because the fruit of the Spirit is peace ( Galatians 5:22-23). This isn’t peace that we can get from this world. This kind of peace only comes from a relationship with God.

This kind of peace isn’t rattled when our finances aren’t where we want them to be or worse, when we are in financial despair. Jesus’s peace is still there as we wait for daily bread, sometimes moment by moment. The peace that God gives helps us to celebrate others’ accomplishments and give thanks for what God has generously given us.

So when my heart is troubled and anxious, I have to ask myself, where are you looking for peace? When we find our peace in God, the Holy Spirit empowers us to live in a way that baffles the world. Onlookers don’t understand how we can be so peaceful while they frantically search for what can only be found in Christ. So today, when you are overwhelmed, instead of looking to the world for a reprieve, ask God for His peace.

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord,
Thank you for giving us the gift of a relationship with you through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. But God, you don’t stop there! You also ensure that we know you have not abandoned us by giving us the gift of your Holy Spirit. Lord, when we face difficulties, and we get overwhelmed, we have the assurance that you are with us because we have your Spirit living inside of us. And God, with that, you give us the unshakeable gift of peace.

Lord, I pray you would help us to remember where we find true rest and true peace. Lord, forgive us for chasing down peace from this world. Lord, as you know, it never lasts. More money does not lead to peace; it creates new problems. More security just leads to more frenzied attempts at managing our lives. And attempting to live someone else’s life robs us of all joy, Jesus. I pray you’d give us the strength to turn away from these false sources of peace. Help us turn to you, God.

You give us peace that the world cannot give and the world cannot take away. Jesus, help us believe and trust that every word you say is true. You are with us, you are for us, and you will give us peace so we don’t have to be troubled or afraid.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

By Ashley Moore

Slow Me Down Lord

Slow Me Down Lord
Wilferd Arlan Peterson

Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations—of slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend,
to pat a dog,
to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise,
that I may know that the race is not always to the swift—
that there is more to life than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak
and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.
Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.

Prayer by Saint Anselm

O Lord my God,
Teach my heart this day where and how to see you,
Where and how to find you.
You have made me and remade me,
And you have bestowed on me
All the good things I possess,
And still I do not know you.
I have not yet done that
For which I was made.
Teach me to seek you,
For I cannot seek you
Unless you teach me,
Or find you
Unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in my desire,
Let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you,
Let me love you when I find you.
–St. Anselm

A Prayer

Loving Father,
Here I am.
I trust that you have an incredible plan for me. Transform me. Transform my life.
Everything is on the table.
Take what you want to take and give what you want to give.
Transform me into the person you created me to be, so I can live the life you envision for me.
I hold nothing back;
I am 100 percent available.
How can I help?

– Matthew Kelly