Giving Joy To The Heart
(31 Days Of Family Prayer – Part 1)
By Kim Butts
"The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart…" (Psa. 19:8).
Jesus wants your family to be filled with joy! He desires you to rejoice and be glad as you follow His precepts and obey His Word. It is not His plan for you to be downcast, defeated, depressed or anxious about anything. The believer’s walk is to be pure and blameless, and regardless of circumstances, it is to be joy-filled.
The Word of the Lord is right and true. As we hear it and read it, He expects us to obey it. Our obedience to His Word will give joy to our hearts. Our lives will not be flooded with doubt and conflict, but with peace and great faith in His ability to overcome any circumstances the enemy would try to use to discourage us or cut in on the race we are running.
Perhaps the hearts of your family members are burdened or heavy at the moment. When the joy of the Lord is not continually present in your home, the enemy is able to get a foothold. Beginning a daily habit of focused rejoicing can bring continual joy into your hearts and home. Over the next month, read each of the Scriptures below together as a family. You may even wish to commit several of these to memory. Pray the passages back to the Lord, claiming them as your own and praising the Father for His Truth. Parents, use the suggestions and/or activities suggested each day, or feel free to come up with some of your own. Days one and two will give you some examples of how to pray the Word through the rest of the days. Watch to see what the Lord does as you pray and speak joy into one another’s lives and into the lives of others. Ask His Spirit to come upon your home in power as you grow in joy!
"Be joyful always" (1 Thess. 5:16). "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4). Clearly, the Father wants us to be filled with joy not just when things are going our way, but always! These passages are not suggestions; they are commands. Our "job" as believers, is to be joyful. When those outside of Christ see that we can rejoice in the midst of our circumstances, they will be attracted by the loveliness of our joy-filled hearts. How can we, as a family, demonstrate an attitude of continual rejoicing? Pray: Father, we want our home to be filled to overflowing with Your joy! Help us to continually remember to rejoice in Your goodness to us each and every day! For Family Members: Pray for each family member by name to be joyful always in obedience to the Lord.
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men" (Rom. 14:17-18). Our culture seems to be so focused upon what we eat and drink, but these are just small, trivial things that the enemy has used to distract us from what is truly important: righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. What other trivial things do we focus on in our lives that we can lay aside to serve God in ways that please Him? Can we fast from those things for a time…or give them up altogether? How has the world gripped our hearts in ways we might not have realized? Are there idols in our lives that take more of our time and attention than spending time with the Father? Pray: Father, we desire to serve Jesus and to please You by living righteous, peaceful and joy-filled lives, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Remind us that what we eat or drink to serve ourselves pales in comparison to Your plans and purposes for our family. For Family Members: Lay hands on each family member one at a time and pray that he or she will serve Jesus with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit every day. Ask the Father to help them focus on His kingdom and not on lesser things.
"…Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). The joy that comes from the Lord gives us the strength we need to persevere through times of grieving. Joy enables us when grief tries to disable us! Let’s share times in our lives when the enemy has tried to defeat us. Now, can we think of some times when we have been able to be joyful overcomers?
(Remember to pray through each Scripture and then for each family member every day using the examples from DAY 1 and DAY 2.)
"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" (Psa. 5:11). When we are afraid or uncertain, we can take refuge in God. He will spread His protection over us because we love His name! Let’s sing for joy and rejoice in Him for that! (This would be a good time to worship the Father – choose a chorus or hymn that expresses joy.)
"I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together" (Psa. 34:1-3). Boasting is not a good thing to do – except when we boast about the Lord! When we tell others what He has done for us, those who hear our testimonies will join us in rejoicing at His goodness and power! Who can we tell about Jesus today so that they can have the joy He has given to us?
"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" (Psa. 28:7). "We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name" (Psa. 33:20-21). Does your heart trust in God? Are there some things that you don’t trust Him to do in your life? Remember that He is our strength and shield. He will help us if we trust in His holy name! Let’s give Him all of the things that are hard to let go of and let Him take care of them for us. He is our strength and our shield. When we let go, our hearts can be free to leap for joy!
"I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High" (Psa. 9:1-2). Let’s write down some of the wonderful things God has done in our lives today! Who are some people we know who seem to be depressed or sad? (Write them down.) Let’s go and share His wonders with them. To celebrate sharing the Father’s goodness with others, let’s sing to the name of the Most High!
"But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation always say, ‘The Lord be exalted!’" (Psa. 40:16). As we seek the Lord in prayer, let’s focus on how much we love what He has done for us through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus! He has redeemed us and made it possible for us to talk with Him anytime and anywhere. Let’s say together, "The Lord be exalted!"
"Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise You with the harp, O God, my God" (Psa. 43:3-4). God doesn’t just make us joyful – He is our joy! Because He has sent His light and truth to us, we delight in Him! (If you play musical instruments at your house, why not get them out and make a joyful noise with them?)
"Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious" (Psa. 66:1-2). The Lord’s Name is glorious! He wants all of the earth to be filled with praise. Let’s joyfully shout our praise out loud to the Lord! Take turns shouting out praise and filling in the blank: "God, You are _____!"
"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in Your name all day long; they exult in Your righteousness" (Psa. 89:15-16). What does it mean to walk in the light of God’s presence? How can we learn to do this better so the Lord will bless our family because of it? What are some of the names of God? (Here are a few: The Great I AM; Jehovah-jireh: the Lord will provide; Jehovah-tsidkenu: the Lord our righteousness; Jehovah-rapha: the Lord who heals; Jehovah-shalom: the Lord is peace; the King of kings.) Can we think of one for every hour of the day that we are awake and rejoice in all that He is?
"For You make me glad by Your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of Your hands" (Psa. 92:4). Think of all the wonderful things the Father has done for us. What works of His hands make you glad? What is your favorite of all God’s creations? Let’s sing for joy because of what He has created.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (Jas. 1:2-4). It’s hard to be joyful when we are faced with disagreeable circumstances. Is anyone going through a trial right now? How can you look at that trial as a way God can develop perseverance (determination) in you? We need to look at the hard things we go through as opportunities for our Father to grow us to maturity and completeness as Christians. If we never go through difficulties, we will be spoiled and selfish. God can use everything we go through to make us stronger believers and to finish His work in us and through us. When trials come, consider it pure joy even if it’s hard because God is at work to make us all He desires us to be!
"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psa. 118:24). There is only one day to be lived at a time. The Father has created today for our family to rejoice and be glad! Let’s think of several things we are thankful to God for today!
"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" (Psa. 30:11-12). "I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul" (Psa. 31:7). Sometimes when we are sad or suffering, it’s hard to remember that God is able to bring us joy in the midst of those times. As a family, could we share these Scriptures with one another during the hard times so that the Father can comfort us and restore our joy to help us get through them?
(Part Two will be in next month’s issue.)