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.
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.