Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rediscovering Joy - Week #5 - Prayer!

“Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us but cares for us. He is our Father. He is accessible to all who will seek Him.”
Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing for Something
Last week, we talked about putting our all into every important endeavor because we reap fully what we sow in this life.  We touched on several areas in life where this is true.  One of these, one's spiritual life, we touched on but briefly.  Today, I would like to examine it more thoroughly.  Specifically, how Prayer can be a tool for us to rediscover Joy in this life.

There are several ways in which Prayer contributes to our feeling Joy in this life:
  • It relieves us of our burdens
  • It reminds us of our blessings
  • and it requires us to listen with our hearts
Relief from Our Burdens

“The more you pray, the less you'll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You'll feel more patient and less pressured.”
Rick Warren

Stress is one of the biggest joy-killers that exists in life.  When we are worried, anxious and overwhelmed with our challenges, Joy goes away.  It is not possible to be overwrought and joyful at the same time.  And most of us humans remain overwrought while experiencing challenges unless we do something to turn things around.  Prayer is the most powerful catalyst for altering one's perceptions from negative to positive.  When we approach the Lord with an open heart for help with our struggles, we can experience immense relief.  For one thing, it is wonderful to kneel before Him and know that we can tell him everything that has happened and is happening to us without fear of reproach, interruption or judgment.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case when we go to another human for verbal support.  Then, as we lay our troubles down at His feet, we can feel a lightening.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. - Matthew 11:29.

When we are yoked with the Lord, He takes our burdens upon Himself with us so that they are not so heavy for us to carry.  We can feel this when He sends His Spirit to comfort us, to let us know that he has heard our prayers and is answering them in a manner and in a time that is best for us.  In feeling this from Him, the mountain is no longer so steep to climb and the peace of His Spirit is sweet.  Even in the most debilitating crisis, it is possible to feel peace and even a Joy that we are not alone and that, ultimately, everything will be alright.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.- John 14:18

Reminds Us of Our Blessings

“One of the main reasons that we lose our enthusiasm in life is because we become ungrateful..we let what was once a miracle become common to us. We get so accustomed to his goodness it becomes a routine..”
Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now

One of the sweetest and, in my humble opinion, best ways to open a prayer with our Heavenly Father is to first thank Him for our blessings.  Sometimes, during very short prayers, that is all that one says - Thank you for our many blessings.  But when one is on a path towards Joy, how much more meaningful it is to take some time down there on our knees and to not be so consumed with our lives that we forget to whom we owe everything for the very air we breathe and all else that keeps us going in this conflicted and often crazy world.  It is important to sometimes spend time enumerating to the Lord just exactly WHAT we are thankful for.  As we do this, something wonderful happens.  A window swings wide open in our darkened world to display to our minds the wonderous miracles that are taking place within our lives and the lives of our loved ones.  We develop a growing perception that instead of our lives being top-heavy with trouble, our "cup runneth over' with goodness, mercy and grace.  Deep within our hearts, a tiny feeling may begin to grow within the river of our thankfulness, which is that elusive quality...JOY.

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.- Psalms 9:2

Listen with Our Hearts

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”
Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers   
Too often, when I end my prayers, I jump up and run off to take care of....my life,... robbing myself of one of the most important parts of a satisfying prayer - LISTENING.  After all has been said and done before the Lord when we are on our knees, do we take time to listen, really listen for the Lord's voice?  We are told in the scriptures:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. - 1 Kings 19:12

Most often, when our Heavenly Father speaks to His children, He speaks quietly.  So, it only stands to reason, that we will hear Him if we, ourselves, are quiet.  If we take time to patiently wait on the Lord, before getting up and running off, what answers may we receive?  What direction might be ours?  The clarification that we seek may only come after we have shown the Lord that we BELIEVE that He will answer us and show that by waiting for Him.  Of course, we may only receive a feeling of peace and not yet the complete answers we are looking for, but how much better off are we after receiving His peace even without a clear answer, than we were before when we had no answer and no peace?

Stop, wait, listen.
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There is so much that can be said about Prayer and how it can lead us to JOY.  I have chosen just these three to talk about.  I hope that in doing so, you may have felt in your heart a desire to turn to your Heavenly Father to receive the peace that "surpasseth all understanding".  I can promise you, as it has been promised to all of us by a wise and loving Heavenly Father, that through prayer His peace can fill our lives, no matter what the circumstances,  which will lead you to a more Joyful existence.

Have a wonderful day!

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