Three words

A few days ago I participated in a reflective prayer exercise. One part of the exercise involved reflecting on Colossians 1:9-12.

Many phrases and words in this passage caught my eye and fueled prayer.

But there were three words in particular that just stopped me momentarily before they redirected my prayer in another direction.

Those three words: “giving joyful thanks.”

Prayer for Joy in God

“O God, let me know you and love you so that I may find joy in you;
and if I cannot do so fully in this life,
let me at least make some progress every day,
until at last that knowledge, love and joy comes to me in all their plentitude.

While I am here on earth let me know you fully
let my love for you grow deeper here, so that there I my love you fully.

On earth then I shall have great joy in hope,
and in heaven complete joy in the fulfillment of my hope.

O, Lord, through your Son you command us, no, you counsel us to ask,
and you promise that you will hear us so that our joy may be complete.

Give me then what you promise to give through your Truth.

You, O God, are faithful;
grant that I may receive my request, so that my joy may be complete.”

–Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

**This prayer and many others are available in 2000 Years of Prayer, edited by Michael Counsell.

Prayer of Simplicity

“Grant me, O Lord,

to know what I ought to know,

to love what I ought to love,

to praise what delights You most,

to value what is precious in Your sight,

to hate what is offensive to You.

Do not allow me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,

nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men;

but to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual,

and above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Your will.”

–Thomas á Kempis (1379-1471)

**This prayer and many others are recorded in 2000 Years of Prayer, edited by Michael Counsell.

A Reason for the Joy

Psalm 100:3 NIV
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

When reading Psalm 100 this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the psalmist describes worship with words like joy, gladness, thanksgiving, and praise. When I gather for worship, I want to do so with a heart full of joy and gladness. I want to honor God with a thankful heart. I want encourage those in my worship community, teaching them that God is worthy of my praise and that God fuels a joyful spirit in my heart.

Verse three of this Psalm gives me plenty of reasons to be joyful as I worship.

  • The Lord is God.
  • He made us.
  • We are His.
  • We are His people.
  • We are the sheep of His pasture.

Why are Christians so joyful and glad as we worship? It’s all about knowing God and being God’s. The very thought of having a relationship with God leads me to worship God right here and now and fills my heart with anticipation of gathering with my church family Sunday to worship with gladness.

Knowing I am God’s own is all the reason I need to worship with joy!

Worship with Gladness

Psalms 100:1-2 NIV
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

As I read this passage the words joy and gladness seem to jump off the page. With beautiful, poetic language, the psalmist links joy and gladness with worship.

These words are linked in the psalm. But are these concepts linked in my life?

As I consider God — God’s glory, God’s power, God’s goodness, God’s holiness — my heart is filled with worship. Just knowing who God is leads me to offer worship.

And as I consider all that God has done, again I am moved to worship. God has so clearly communicated the desire to have a relationship with me — walking with me and talking with me. How can I begin to comprehend the enormity of God’s love? And how many times has God showered me with both mercy and grace?

When I take time to ponder God — who God is and what God has done — the reaction is so genuine. The response is so real. With joy I pour out my songs of praise to the One who is so deserving! With a heart overflowing with gladness I offer God my thanks and worship!

God is worthy!

Praise the name of the Lord!

Joy

A responsive reading including:
Psalms 4:7, 5:11, 9:2, 15:8-9, 19:18, 28:7, 30:11-2, 32:11, 35:9, 40:16, 42:4, 51:12, 63:5, 85:6, 100:1-2, 104:34, 119:14, 119:111

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “The Lord be exalted!”

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.

Cultivating Joy

So often we act as though our joy depends on all the ideal circumstances falling into place for our lives so that we never face stress, pain, suffering, or trials. Instead, our joy should depend on the presence of God which never fluctuates or changes.

Pause for a moment and consider the following words (from World Magazine) spoken by church leader in China:

“Stop praying for persecution in China to end. It is through persecution that the Church has grown. We, in fact, are praying that the American Church might taste the same persecution so revival would come to the American Church like we have seen in China.”

Not only has this church leader seen the blessings come from “less than ideal” circumstances, he is praying for us to suffer, so that we may know the joy of revival.

Perhaps now is a good time to pray a prayer of confession and repentance for our being so quick to let the slightest inconvenience rob us of our joy. And perhaps we should follow that prayer with another – a prayer thanking God for His abiding, unfailing presence.

Psalm 18:2, NLT
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold.

Psalm 19:14, NLT
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.