Praying with Joy
Praying with Joy
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
“always in every prayer of mine for you all making
my prayer with joy” Philippians 1:4
1. Praying with Joy starts by praying biblically. When Paul prayed he focused primarily on unity in the fellowship. He prayed for you all, referring to all the believers in the church. Paul was praying for them continually.
2. When Paul prayed for the Philippians, he thanked God for them, and he prayed with joy. The focus on joy sets this letter apart from all of Paul’s other letters; the word “joy” (in its various forms: joy, rejoice) is found fourteen times in this short epistle.
3. Coming from a preacher imprisoned for his faith, joy would be the last attitude one would expect. Paul had joy despite his imprisonment and the uncertain decision on his case. Paul’s life was on the line, yet he could rejoice and encourage others.“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers” (Phm 4)
4. A standard dictionary equates joy with happiness, but in Scripture the two words are quite distinct. For example, when life is going well, we may feel happy; but when hard times come, we lose that feeling and become unhappy or sad. True joy, however, rises above the rolling waves of circumstance; true joy keeps us on an even keel no matter how happy or sad we might feel because of our situation.
5. Happiness reflects a horizontal perspective, focusing on circumstances on one’s plane of experience. We are happy when events are going our way. Joy reflects a vertical perspective centering on God. We can feel joy in trials because we know that God is still in control.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:26–28)
6. True joy is found only in relationship with Jesus Christ. Joy is the gladdening of the heart that comes from knowing Christ as Lord, the feeling of relief because we are released from sin; it is the inner peace and tranquility we have because we know the final outcome of our lives; and it is the assurance that God is in us and in every circumstance.
7. In his final words to his disciples, Jesus promised, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Jesus said these words as he faced crucifixion.
8. What do you do when you pray? Perhaps you will answer, “Well, I ask God for anything I really need. If I get desperate enough for something or if I end up in real trouble, I pray to God about it.” Is this really what prayer is all about?
9. As Paul prays for the philippians he begins with their spiritual needs. With Paul spiritual realities always came before physical ones. He was not insensitive to material needs. At times he mentioned them, but he knew that these were always less important than spiritual things for himself first of all and also for all Christians.
10. In his prayers Paul always thanked God for the evidence of spiritual blessing among Christians. Although Paul was sensitive to the problems in his churches, he was even more sensitive to the mercies of God.
11. He knew people’s hearts. He knew that there is no good in man that can satisfy God. He knew that Christians live a great deal of their lives in the flesh instead of in the Spirit. He knew that we all fall short of what God would like us to be.
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Co 1:4)
12. But Paul also was acquainted with God’s grace and he gloried in it. He knew that God has provided wonderfully for his children—for their salvation and for their constant and continuing growth in the Christian life. Consequently, Paul was continually thankful for these things.
“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Th 2:13)
13. Do your prayers follow this pattern? We all laugh at the prayer that goes, “God bless me and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four and no more. Amen.” We are uneasy with prayer that is nothing more than a string of requests—“Give me this, give me that; do it quickly, and that’s that.” But we often pray this way nonetheless. It should not be so. Our prayers should be spiritual prayers. They should be filled with thanksgiving. “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 Th 1:3)
14. The example of Paul teach us that our prayers should be filled with thanksgiving. More than this, they should be filled with thanksgiving for spiritual things. You must thank God for Christ, for his love, for the Holy Spirit, for your salvation, for the support of other Christians, for freedom of worship, and all other spiritual things. “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you” (Col 1:3).
GracePointe Baptist Church
2209 N Post Road
Oklahoma City, OK 73141
Phone: (405) 769-5050