A Treasured Prayer from My Grandfather-in-Law

Years ago, my grandfather-in-law, Pete Austin, gave me this prayer/poem from Henry van Dyke that he cherished and memorized. I came across it today in my studies. It encouraged and challenged my heart again and I hope it will do the same for you:

“These are the gifts I ask

Of thee, Spirit serene:

Strength for the daily task,

Courage to face the road,

Good cheer to help me bear the traveler’s load,

And, for the hours of rest that come between,

An inward joy in all things heard and seen.

These are the sins I fain

Would have thee take away:

Malice, and cold disdain,

Hot anger, sullen hate,

Scorn of the lowly, envy of the great,

And discontent that casts a shadow gray

On all the brightness of the common day.”

Anoint Us with Your Gladness

Martin Lloyd-JonesOh that the Lord might anoint us with His gladness.
As we face the modern world with all its trouble and turmoil
and with all its difficulties and sadness,
nothing is more important than
that we who call ourselves Christian,
and who claim the Name of Christ,
should be representing our faith in such a way before others
as to give them the impression that here is the solution,
and here is the answer.
In a world where everything has gone so sadly astray,
we should be standing out as men and women apart,
people characterized by a fundamental joy and certainty
in spite of conditions, in spite of adversity.
– Martin Lloyd-Jones

The Power of a Joyful Pastor

Phillip Brooks, an Episcopalian rector in Boston over 100 years ago,
and author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” wrote this about how pastors are to serve Christ’s church. His main thesis here can be extrapolated to any job:

I think, again, that it is essential to the preacher’s success
that he should thoroughly enjoy his work.
I mean in the actual doing of it, and not only in its idea.
No man to whom the details of his task are repulsive
can do his task well constantly,
however full he may be of its spirit.
He may make one bold dash at it and carry it over all his disgusts,
but he cannot work on at it year after year, day after day.

Therefore, count it not merely a perfectly legitimate pleasure,
count it an essential element of your power,
if you can feel a simple delight in what you have to do as a minister,
in the fervor of writing,
in the glow of speaking,
in standing before men and moving them,
and in contact with the young (and the old).

The more thoroughly you enjoy it, the better you will do it all.

Therefore, let us “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2)!

Confessing Our Lack of Joy

Almighty God, our Everlasting Father,
we acknowledge that for our joy
you have sent us a Comforter – the Holy Spirit.
You have multiplied your promises to us.
You have shown us the future happiness that awaits us in heaven.
You have given us a living fountain to cleanse us from sin.

But we have so quickly forgotten these realities that prompt joy in our hearts.
We confess that we have sinned against You
by allowing divisions,
quarrels,
contentions,
weariness,
sadness,
despair,
and suffering
to rob us of our joy in You.

We ask that you restore to us the joy of our salvation
and create within us a pure heart and a willing spirit.
Forgive us O Lord and open our hearts to experience the joy of forgiven sin.
We pray this in the name of the One who poured out His life for our unending joy,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reflections to Cultivate Joy for Your Journey

  • Life need not be easy to be joyful. Joy is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ. – William Van der Hoven
  • The surest mark of a Christian is not faith, or even love, but joy. – Sam Shoemaker
  • When I think upon my God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap from my pen; and since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I serve Him with a cheerful spirit. – Franz Joseph Haydn
  • Solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know.         – John Newton
  • No one can live without delight, and that is why a man deprived of spiritual joy goes over to carnal pleasure.  St. Thomas Aquinas
  • A common but futile strategy for achieving joy is trying to eliminate things that hurt: Get rid of pain by numbing the nerve ends, get rid of insecurity by eliminating risks, get rid of disappointment by depersonalizing your relationships. And then try to lighten the boredom of such a life by trying to buy joy with material things. – Eugene Peterson
  • Winners of souls are first weepers for souls. So our prayer should be: Let me look on the crowd as my Savior did, till my eyes with tears grow dim. Let me view with pity the wandering sheep and love them for love of Him.

The Cross Overcomes All the Enemies of Joy

“Here in the cross is where every enemy of joy is overcome:

  • Divine wrath, as he becomes a curse for us;
  • Real guilt, as he becomes forgiveness for us;
  • Lawbreaking, as he becomes righteousness for us;
  • Estrangement from God, as he becomes reconciliation for us;
  • Slavery to Satan, as he becomes redemption for us;
  • Bondage to sin, as he becomes liberation for us;
  • Pangs of conscience, as he becomes cleansing for us;
  • Death, as he becomes the resurrection for us;
  • Hell, as he becomes eternal life for us.”

C.H. Spurgeon