“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24 NKJV)
Don’t you love it when God suddenly illumines the eyes of your heart to see something old in a new way? He does this often, but I find myself needing continual reminders that this is certainly what He is good at and wants to do.
Recently, I have been asking God why I haven’t been experiencing joy the way I ought to, and I believe that part of it relates to how I have not been viewing my prayer as a means to work on the relationship, just like any other human relationship—to nurture and help it grow.
In the past, I have relegated prayer to another duty that I needed to fulfill to be right with God. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about prayer requests or didn’t have things to pray about, it was that I wasn’t looking at it as a relational, intentional communication to connect with my beloved Father. I was looking at it as a box to check to make sure I was praying for the things that needed prayer.
Then one day, it occurred to me that prayer really was my spirit talking to my spirit Father (funny how that works) and that if I didn’t intentionally keep communicating with Him through prayer, I wouldn’t experience the joy and fulfillment that He provides when we are talking and listening to one another. It’s much the same when I feel disconnected from some of my friendships or family relationships—our distance is often due to the fact that we are not talking as often or sharing what is really going on at a heart level. But once we reconnect, my feelings of connectedness and joy return as I experience loving relationship once more.
My small group started using WhatsApp (an app through which you can have group conversations) for sharing our prayer requests, rather than taking up time during group to share these needs. We have all found it to be incredibly helpful to keep us connected throughout the week as we share requests, encourage each one another, and confirm that we are lifting each other up and “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV). It has evolved into this ever-flowing prayer dialogue with one another. For me, it has kept me continually praying and keeping my relationship with the Lord alive, as opposed to coming to him when I have some moments to get through my checklist. Consequently, my joy has returned since I have been experiencing these times with the Lord.
How about you? Are you feeling a little dry in your prayer life because it feels rote, or dutiful? Are you lacking the joy of God’s presence? Try talking to Him at any little moment you have and pray for someone near to your heart. Pray in community. His joy is waiting for you in the midst of your connection with Him.
Above illustration by Tina Park.