Many call the book of Philippians in the New Testament, Apostle Paul’s “happy letter”. Unlike any of his other letters, he expresses lots of joy in it. The words joy, rejoicing and gladness are mentioned some 19 times in this short letter. Despite the sorrow he was experiencing during the time of his writing, as well as his suffering in the past, Paul found insurmountable joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. He does not let his circumstances dictate his joy, and instead he chooses joy continually. 

Is joy a word you’ve used lately to describe your life? Amidst everything 2020 and 2021 has brought so far, are you able to say you have joy? That’s been hard for me for sure! Joy is difficult to find because there are a lot of things that rob our joy. Here’s a few:

  • Circumstances: When things go our way, we’re happy. But when they don’t, we’re not. Is it possible to find joy in all circumstances? 
  • People: Some have asked me, “What do you love about being a pastor?” And I answer,  “People!” Then they ask, “What do you dislike about being a pastor?” And I answer, “People!” Is there a way to have joy in spite of people? 
  • Things: Possessions can be a blessing or a curse. Is there a way for us to actually bring us joy?
  • Worry: This is the worst thief of all! We’re all well acquainted with worry after the year we’ve had. Is it really possible to worry a lot less? 

In spite of all that he was going through, Paul wrote us a letter filled with truth about how to get more joy. He shows us that when joy and prayer are married, gratitude is born

He writes, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.” Philippians 1:3 

Even though Paul is locked up in jail, he is not thinking about himself. He’s thanking God and praying for his friends in Philippi. Incredible.

Did you know that practicing gratitude actually rewires the brain and makes us happier? Neuroscientists have discovered that when you practice and express gratitude, you’ll be happier and healthier (1). Paul seemed to know that too and kept praying for them all in Philippi. He found joy by consistently remembering them in his prayers. He can’t do much in jail, but you know what he can do? He can pray! There’s a lot we can’t do with our circumstances either, but we too can pray.

It’s no wonder that Paul can encourage us with these words, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16. 

Want to know God’s will for your life? Paul tells us! Rejoice always, pray all the time, and be thankful no matter what. Wow, I need that. You need that. The world needs it too.

By giving us a peek into his prayer life, Paul teaches us how to pray with joy. So let’s be great learners today and put this into practice. Join me!

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