Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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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.