Joyful Prayers

Have you ever prayed for your “enemy” because you knew it was the right thing to do? Because it’s the biblical, christian thing to do? But the whole time you did it your heart was struggling to be loving, and you felt bad because no matter how you tried, the prayer was still selfish and only done out of obedience to God?

Me too. Often. More than I’d like to admit.

And all the while, I was certain that even though I was praying for that person I was really praying for myself. Because, as is known, prayer really changes the heart of the pray-er more than anything else. So I could’ve just prayed for myself–kind of like taking a short-cut–but for whatever reason, God asks us to take the long way around by praying for my enemy and so I acquiesce by praying for them instead of me. And the whole thing is an exercise in discipline and obedience. Not a joy-filled experience, to be sure.

And I’ve always kind of wondered why my heart couldn’t be more full in doing the right thing, as if I’m defective in the deepest parts of my soul. I mean, I’ve prayed for my enemies as long as I can remember, but it still remains hard for me. Shouldn’t I have more joy in it by now?

No. And here’s why: not all prayer is meant to be joyful. The end result isn’t always supposed to be joy. I should be at ease with the discomfort of praying for some.

Paul, the writer of Philippians, is sending his letter to a group of people of whom he has a wonderful affinity for. They have continued to partner with him in his missionary work and there is something about this group of people that encourages Paul greatly. He says this:

“I thank God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this (:) that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” AND “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:3-8)

You see, Paul didn’t feel this way about every one that he had contact with. We get to see here that there was something special about this particular group from Philippi that buoyed his spirits differently than others.

I get this. I understand where Paul is coming from. There are people that I really enjoy praying for, and when I do, they are people of such character and godliness that I know will show the fruits of my prayers for them. But not everyone falls into my friend list, some are un-friends and un-friends are just a more trying bunch. And that’s okay (that I feel that way, I mean).

Some people are so full of chaos and self-ignorance that it takes, like, 5 kazillion prayer darts to make any kind of remotely perceptible impact on them. These are the un-friends, the enemy-types that we pray for more out of duty than any true affection. However, there are others who all they need is one or two little prayers sent their way and it’s as though they’ve been completely inoculated against hell and their souls are fully open before Heaven itself. These are the ones whom praying for is pure joy. Friends.

But as I read these words of Paul, I can’t help but wondering what category I might fall in. When people pray for me, is it difficult, an act of discipline? Do I live my life in such a way and interact with others in such a way that their spirits are more alive and hopeful when they pray for me? Or are they left wondering if their prayers are doing any good at all? Is my shell soft enough to be receptive to the prayers of others? Have I gathered around myself a group of friends or a whole slew of un-friends?

I want to be a blessing to others in all ways–in giving and receiving. I can bless others through my prayer activity for them, but I can also make people’s prayer-lives more invigorating and joyful as they pray for me.

I’m sure that there are some who find it difficult to pray for me–if they do at all. (And I hope people are praying for me, at least occasionally, like once a year even.) But my prayer is that the majority pray for me out of affection rather than obedience, and that my life is fertile enough to bloom with all those prayer seeds sent my way on the winds of love.

Ask yourself today, what kinds of prayers you’re praying and for whom you’re praying?

Note: If you have a lot of enemies that fill your prayer list, it’s likely that many find it just as difficult to pray for you. And if that’s the case, what can you begin doing today to move your name from the un-friends list to the friends list?

Most of all, may you find yourself in prayer. And in so doing, may you discover great joy!


2 Responses to “Joyful Prayers”
  1. Judy says:

    You are a smarty for sure! I am joyful when I pray for you! Love ya! Have a super week!nn1

  2. I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

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