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Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Dena Johnson Martin

Crosswalk.com blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos

A Prayer for Joy

Lord, how ironic that I set a writing schedule over a month ago, and today I’m supposed to pray for joy. You see, I feel anything but joy.

No happiness. No excitement. No sense of well-being.

Only fear. Anxiety. Exhaustion. Frustration. Confusion. Joy is about the farthest thing from my heart and mind. The tears sting my eyes as I pen these words, having no direction on how to move forward.

I’ve spent the last two days fighting tears, burying myself in work in hopes I can lose myself and not deal with the trials hitting my life right now.

Instead, you planned over a month ago to make me face all of these negative emotions swirling in my heart and mind and pray that your joy will overflow my heart.

That’s what I want.

That’s what I need.

I need a fresh filling of your Spirit, an infusing of your joy.

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b

I need strength. I need help. I am beyond weak, completely spent in every way…emotionally, physically, mentally. I don’t feel as if I can keep going another hour, let alone another day. The pain is too great. The fear too overwhelming. Where, Lord, do I find your joy? Where do I find your strength?

I need you like never before, and yet I can’t even make myself cry out. I need your presence. You promise to be near the broken hearted, to be our help in times of trouble. Your promise to bring joy in the morning, to make beauty out of ashes.

Yet, I don’t even know where to start. I don’t even know how to find your presence, your comfort, your joy. I don’t know how to face these circumstances, this pain, these crippling emotions.

All I know to do is throw myself at your feet, to tell you how I feel, to beg you to pour out your joy as only you can.

But look, God will not reject a person of integrity, nor will he lend a hand to the wicked. He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:20-21

As I read these words, they are balm to my broken heart. I know Job suffered far more than I ever have, ever could in this life. And you showed yourself faithful, good, the redeemer. You restored far more than he ever lost.

And you’ve done the same for me. I’ve seen your hand of faithfulness. I’ve seen you bring beauty from ashes. I’ve seen you restore and redeem more than I ever could have imagined.

Yet, I doubt. I lose sight of your goodness and your grace. I fail to remember how you’ve carried me through in the past, brought laughter and shouts of joy back to my life. You’ve done it before, and you will do it again. Give me faith to remember this is a season, a season that will end with you restoring joy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

Lord, you are my strength and my shield. You are my protector, my warrior who goes before me and behind me. I know I must learn to release my fears, my doubts, and trust you, trust you to fight the battles only you can fight. It’s only by trusting you, by turning my heart toward you and believing the promises of your Word, that I can find joy again.

Show me your faithfulness again. Show me your goodness and grace. Show me your unmatched and unconditional love for me. Wrap me in your arms and smother me with your peace so I can experience your joy, so I can praise you with song.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, Psalm 30:11

I know you will turn my mourning into dancing, that you will again clothe me with joy. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But I choose to believe, to trust your word, to belief your truth.

Help me to refocus my heart and mind, to think on those things that are lovely and noble and true and right and excellent and praiseworthy. Help me to bring my cares to you, casting them on you because you care for me. Teach me to cast out worry and anxiety and fear and instead bring my concerns to you with thanksgiving. Help me be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

For then I know I will again experience your joy.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

I’ve tasted your goodness in the past. I know from experience just how precious life is when lived in fellowship with you. I know exactly how good you are. I know the joys—the utter and complete joy—of taking refuge in you.

Bring me back to that place of perfect fellowship, of unmatched joy.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 1 Peter 1:6

Over and over you promise a beautiful future for those who love you, who trust you. You promise that you make all things work for good to those who love you. You promise to use the trials of this life—trial you promise you have overcome—to make us more like you, to mold us into your image. You tell us to count it joy when we face a multitude of trials because it perfects our faith, makes us mature and complete.

You tell us we can’t experience your healing, unless we experience loss. You tell us we can’t experience you binding up our wounds or making us whole, unless we also experience the pain of this life. We are in the pain right now, but we know the healing is coming. And along with the healing, we know joy also comes.

So help us keep our eyes on the prize, on the future joy that will one day be restored to us. Give us strength to endure through the night as we wait for the joy that comes in the morning. Give us eyes to see the vision of the future you have planned for us, one well beyond anything we could ever ask, hope or imagine.

Give us joy, true joy that only comes from you.

A Prayer for Peace

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. Isaiah 9:6-7

Father, you came as the Prince of Peace. You came to bring your perfect peace to this world. And right now, we see anything but peace.

We are surrounded by chaos and destruction and heartache and despair. The world swirls around us, never stopping, growing darker and more destructive every day. We long for the day when you fully reveal yourself and peace rules this world.

Until that day, we call on your name, seeking your perfect peace. We know your peace is a gift lavished on us, a gift like no other. Help us embrace this precious gift.

You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. Isaiah 26:3 (Amplified)

We know your peace is poured out on us when we focus our thoughts on you, when we learn to fully trust in you. Help us release our fears and hold to you in complete faith. Help us cling to you, to your character, to your faithfulness. May we embrace your goodness and grace as we wait, wait to see you show up in our lives, in our circumstances.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9

In our humanity, it’s easy to lose sight of who you are and to put our focus on our circumstances. It’s easy to worry, to dwell on the waves tossing us to and fro. That’s not what we want. We want our minds to be stayed on you. We want our hearts to be filled with faith instead of fear. We want to have faith to thank you even before we see the answer, knowing you are faithful forever and always. We know that’s how we experience your peace, your peace that surpasses our understanding.

Teach us, Lord. Teach us to fix our thoughts on those things that help to keep us walking in faith. Teach us to remember the good things, the gifts that come from you. Teach us to put into practice all the words of your love letter to us, everything you teach us. We long for your presence, the presence of the God of peace.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.  Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.  And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:14-17

We know your first and greatest command is to love—to love you and to love others. We know love is the wardrobe you want your children to wear. We know love is how others know we belong to you.

As we walk through our daily lives, let us find opportunity to show your love so others may know we belong to you. May they see how our love works itself out, allowing peace to envelop our lives and flow through our hearts to others. May they see the gift of peace that becomes second-nature when we allow your love to penetrate every fiber of our beings. May they see your perfect peace as we decrease in all things so you may increase in every aspect of our lives.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Father, you are our hope, our one and only hope in this world and in the next. Over and over, you tell us to trust in you, that our confident hope becomes the source of your power, of your Holy Spirit. May we overflow with your blessings, your gifts of love and joy and peace and so much more. May our lives be forever marked by the fruit that comes only from you.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:8

We confess our complete trust in you. We know you are our shield and our protection. We know you are our Good Shepherd who watches over your flock, protecting us from those who come to bring death and destruction. The comfort of knowing you are our protector is greater than any other gift. Thank you. Thank you for your protection so we can rest, safe and secure and in complete peace.

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

Fill us with your word. Fill us with your grace. Fill us with knowledge of you, of your character, of your ways. May we grow each and every day, experiencing more of your grace and peace. May we determine in our hearts to always grow, to always seek you, to always strive to become more like you. May we walk in a long obedience in the same direction.

There are few gifts greater than the gift of your peace. As we enter this season of celebrating the gift of your Son, may we see and experience a peace greater than any we’ve ever known. Help us put aside the commercialization of this season, and cling to the true reason. May we know the Prince of Peace in every area of our lives.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! Isaiah 52:7


Additional scriptures on peace:

Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you. Isaiah 26:12

I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace. Isaiah 54:13

You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Isaiah 55:12

I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the Lord, who heals them. Isaiah 57:18-19

The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. Psalm 29:11

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God. Galatians 6:16

For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. Ephesians 6:15

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. 2 Timothy 2:22




Father, my heart longs to focus on you this Christmas season, to be fully yours as we remember the amazing gift of your son Jesus Christ. Search me. Know me. Find everything in me that is fighting against fully surrendering to you.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

I have sinned. against you so often, in so many ways. It’s so easy to get distracted, to lose my focus on what’s important. My heart longs to be perfectly devoted to you, to have you at the forefront of my mind every moment of every day. I long to be in constant communication with you, praying without ceasing.

But I don’t. In this world of chaos and trouble, I’m quick to get lost in my life, in the circumstances swirling around me. I easily exchange your perfect peace for the anxiety and worry of this life.

I want to seek your face, to hear your voice, to walk in complete obedience. And yet how often I miss your voice directing my steps…or even hear your voice and fail to obey.

Forgive me.

For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:3-7

I need you. I need your cleansing, your forgiveness. I need your presence and your love. I need your mercy and compassion. I need you to purify me, to wipe my slate clean, to throw my sins as far as the east is from the west.

Wash me with the blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice given for my sins. Wash me so you see His righteousness when you look at me, instead of the stain of my sin and guilt.

Give me a fresh start, making me whole and pure so I can come into your presence, be in fellowship with you.

Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Psalm 51:8

In the midst of all the busyness and commercialism of the season, it’s easy to lose my joy. As I struggle with illness and grief and loss and uncertainty, I so often lose sight of the reason for this season. I lose sight of the baby born that Christmas morn, a gift from heaven sent to bring the greatest joy ever offered to man.

I focus on my brokenness instead of the healer. I focus on the pain instead of the redemption. I focus on the loss instead of the hope. Turn my heart. Turn my eyes. Turn my mind. Help me focus on the gift of that precious baby boy given for us, to bring us into relationship with you, to give us hope for our future. May we find the ultimate joy in your great love for us.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Psalm 51:10-12

Wherever my heart is, change it. Make it pure, right with you. Fill my heart with your Holy Spirit. Prepare me, prepare my heart to celebrate the greatest gift ever given.

Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. Psalm 51:15

May your praise ever be on my lips. As I rejoice in you, in your mercy and grace, in your forgiveness and love, fill my mouth with praise for you. May my words point the world back to you as I remember your perfect faithfulness, your love, your provisions.

May I sing songs of adoration for Immanuel, God with us, the Prince of Peace, the perfect sacrifice given for me.

Lord, I long to make this Christmas special, a Christmas season in which I know you in new ways. I long to enter this season with my heart and mind prepared to celebrate you. I long to be fully yours, fully known by you, fully surrendered so my heart can be changed, molded, made into your image. I long to be clothed in your holiness, righteousness, tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Above all, may I put on love…love for you and love for others. Love for the world around me that desperately needs to know you. Love for the season that is all about you. Love for the gifts you so freely lavish on me.

Prepare me for this season, a season that represents more than goodness and love than I could ever express. Prepare me to celebrate the light of the world given for me. Prepare me to find peace in the midst of this chaotic world, to set aside the craziness of this life for the beauty of a silent night.

Draw me into your presence so I can sit, soak, enjoy every moment of knowing I am secure in you.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.