Moments in Prayer: March, 2023
“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.” (1 Chronicles 16:27)
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy…” (Psalm 28:7)
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy…” (Psalm 30:11)
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” (Acts 2:28)
“Now may the God of hope fill you all with joy…” (Romans 12:12)
For the month of March, our prayer focus is for the Holy Spirit to fill us with Joy! This is the second quality in the fruit of the Spirit list we find in Galatians 5. The biblical concept of joy, as expressed through the Hebrew word simchah and the Greek word chara, involves something more than the quest for ‘happiness’, which our secular world calls us to pursue.
Throughout scripture, simchah/chara-type-joy, rather than being found through our own quest or effort, is described instead as a gift to be received from God in all circumstances, even the difficult ones. That means the source of joy is not based on the conditions of life, and neither is it based on our effort, or our merit! It’s based solely on HIM! Joy comes not as we seek health, or wealth, or good feelings, but instead as we seek the presence of Jesus in our very beings, as we trust him with our circumstances (both good and bad), even in the midst of a very broken world.
This is Good News! Because life is full of ups and downs, of highs and lows. BUT our joy doesn’t need to follow that roller-coaster trajectory, such as happiness does. In momentary times of trouble, fear not! Jesus longs to carry us through. He sends the Holy Spirit to fill us with joy, not as a means to mask how we feel, but to hold us fast, regardless, even as he works to redeem all things, for our good! Joy shows the world that, with the Holy Spirit, Jesus enables us to both triumph and thrive, no matter what comes our way!
Consider the texts listed above:
- Notice the reference to joy in God’s dwelling place… where he is close, where he is present, where we can choose to go when life is both easy, and hard.
- Imagine the feeling o f a heart leaping for joy! Notice that the ‘leap’ comes after the declaration of the Lord as the writer’s strength and shield, and is felt in a heart ready to trust in him, no matter what.
- See that God turns wailing into dancing as HE clothes us in joy!
- Consider joy as coming from a source beyond ourselves, as we have first placed ourselves in God’s presence. Note the wisdom promised for the path of life through this connection.
- Notice the link between the gift of joy and the birth of hope in us, as well… a hope that is so abundant that it overflows to others.
Where do you need the Holy Spirit to stream out this simcha/chara-type-joy in your life? What might that look like? Is there a first step Jesus is leading you to?
Pray words of invitation and welcome the Holy Spirit for your own heart:
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Come and fill me today!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! I welcome you into my innermost being! By your presence, birth in me a triumphal joy, which isn’t hindered by life’s circumstances, but draws me to thrive deeply in you, even in spite of them.
Pray words of invitation and welcome for the Church
- Welcome Holy Spirit! May the thriving, triumphal JOY of Jesus overflow out of my heart into worship!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! May this contagious JOY of Jesus overflow out of my heart upon _________ today! (Repeat this with specific names of those in your sphere of influence; those who will identify with the struggles of life, but will be mystified by the concept of JOY in the midst of them.)
- Welcome Holy Spirit! May this JOY of Jesus overflow out of my heart and birth a transformational hope within God’s struggling world, cultures, and creation!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! May this JOY of Jesus’ presence carry me through the trials and struggles of my own life, particularly in these circumstances (openly name your situation) so that I might overflow with hope, and authentically thrive in YOU, no matter what.
- Welcome Holy Spirit! May the world notice the difference you make, as your church collectively lives with a JOY that knows no bounds. AMEN!
Karen West is the Ontario PFLT Representative to NFLT. She and her husband, Bruce, attend WMB Church in Waterloo, Ontario.