A Prayer for Redefined and Refueled Joy
“The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“… that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” John 17:13
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Dear Lord Jesus, during Lent, what a dangerous delight it is to pray in agreement with the things on your prayer list for us. You’re actually praying that we might have the full measure of your joy within us—the only joy that is “heavenly,” the only joy that is all powerful.
It buckles our knees to ponder what this might mean. Do we really want to be as joyful as you intend? Do we really want to be that out of control; that overwhelmed with Trinitarian merriment; that empowered to live for your glory, without governors and restrictors? Only you know, Jesus. We believe, help our unbelief; help my unbelief.
First of all, we ask you to free us from every false notion of what “joy” is. We don’t want to confuse our definition of joy with yours. Too often we’d gladly settle for the mere emotion of happiness, based on getting our way and having our druthers. But you will something far grander and substantive for us. The “joy set before you,” as you went to the cross, didn’t replace the hot tears and extreme pain, but redefined them.
The hope of joy lubricated your willingness to suffer greatly for others, including us, including me. If you fill us with your joy, it will be the same for us—not the same suffering as yours, but suffering indeed. That’s both costly and glorious… Jesus, with humility, we cry out, make us that glad; make us that joyful; make us that willing to be empowered to love and suffer for others.
What but the gospel of your grace can bring such freedom and joy to our hearts? I literally tremble at the thought that I could be that free, that joyful; but I also own my hesitation and halting ways. You know my heart, so there’s no reason to pretend otherwise, Jesus. I own my selfishness. I want to be happy, period. I resent it when people or circumstances (even traffic) get in the way of my recipe for a happy life. I wish I was already over that struggle, but I’m not.
So as Lent continues, continue to reveal your glory and your grace to me, Jesus. Give me freedom to repent and to be joyful, as you intend. I’ll fix my gaze on you, for you are the author and perfecter of my faith. I’ll never be more forgiven than I already am. I’ll never be counted more righteous in God’s sight that I already am… all because of you, Jesus, all because of you. But I will be more joyful and more loving, and I long for that Day, and I live for that Day in this day. So very Amen I pray, in your trustworthy and triumphant name.