John 15:11 ‘These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’
If we judge by the dictionary definition we will find that there is very little difference between happiness and joy. Each is described a ‘very glad feeling’ or ‘sense of intense pleasure.’ Happiness in the secular world is based, for the most part, on one’s circumstances or any number of external factors such as possessions, power, or prestige. Whenever these things are diminished or disappear, the happiness associated with them is lost as well. Abraham Lincoln said that ‘most folks are about as happy as they decide to be.’ In other words, people can decide to be happy if they make a conscious decision as to just what their happiness will depend on. Again, this type of happiness will only last as long as the external influence from which it results is present. However, Jesus had much more in mind when He offered His joy to those who would accept His way of life and salvation. In the passage from which today’s verse is taken, Jesus speaks of ‘abiding in Him, and He abiding in us’, as well as keeping His commandments. These are the ‘things I (Jesus) have spoken to you’ which are the source of true joy.
Jesus’ promise of abundant life here and eternal life hereafter are two of the joy producing realities of the Christian life. Both of these are joys which originate within a believer and are not dependent upon external circumstances. While happiness depends largely on circumstances, the Holy Spirit is able to produce joy in the heart of a believer in spite of adverse circumstances. And, in agreement with the words of 2 Corinthians 4:18, ‘the things which are seen are temporal, while the things which are not seen are eternal.’ Only God can give the joy which none other can give, and nothing or nobody can take it away.
The first question most Christians ask after reading this verse is ‘is God really serious when he asks us to pray without ceasing?’ To better understand what God expects of us, we have to examine why we should pray, just what qualifies as prayer, and how we can be in constant communion with God. Probably the best reason we can give for praying incessantly is that God commands it. And if He commands it He will make a way by which it can be done. But there are other good reasons why we should be constantly in prayer. Prayer is about getting to know God better, trusting him more, being more obedient to Him and developing a closer love relationship with Him. The real purpose of prayer is not to get God’s help in accomplishing our agenda, but discovering God’s will and allowing Him to fulfil that will through us. Which is why He assures us of answers to prayer when we pray according to His will. 1 John 14,15 says that ‘if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and…we have the petitions we desired of Him.’
Although we usually think of prayer in terms of words or sentences that we communicate to God either orally or silently, there are also times when God reads our minds and discerns even the desires of our hearts. In such cases, Romans 8:26,27 tells us that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us when we don’t know how to pray. However this is no doubt dependent on our being in close communion with God or in a spirit of prayer. Praying without ceasing is not a matter of continuous unbroken prayer, but a determination to persist and persevere in prayer, in confident expectation that God will answer in His time, and according to His good, acceptable and perfect will.
Is prayer a priority in your Christian walk?
Do you pray without ceasing?
Are you in constant communication with God daily?
Philippians 4:6,7 'Be anxious for nothing; but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.'
Anxiety is a common problem in today's world. The pace of life and the demands upon one's time to meet seemingly unattainable goals, often conspire to place a constant pressure on people, which regularly results in anxiety. While it is impossible not to be concerned about the cares of this world, these verses contain the solution to dealing with them, without the worry that so often besets those who do not place their trust in God. In 1 Peter 5:7 we are told to 'cast our care upon Him, for He cares for you.' In today's verses we are exhorted to 'let our requests be known unto God' by prayer and with thanksgiving, in confidence that He will 'work all things for our good.' We should ask in the spirit of thanksgiving, acknowledging God's mercies and kindness to us always. Even though God knows all about our needs and concerns, He wants us to take them to Him in prayer. James 4:2 reminds us that we 'have not because we ask not.' We often neglect to ask God for help or direction because we consider our needs trivial or unimportant; however, we have a God who is concerned about every aspect of our lives, down to the minutest detail. There is a wise adage which says 'if we are prayerful in everything, we will be careful (filled with care) in nothing.'
If we are willing to place our requests before God and confidently leave them there, we are promised the peace of God. This is a peace which transcends our understanding, but comes with assurance that God is in control, and our greatest need is no challenge for a God 'who is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think.' (Ephesians 3:20) And that peace is maintained through our relationship with Jesus Christ and the work of His Holy Spirit.
Do you regularly bring all you requests to God in prayer?
Have you experienced God's faithfulness through answered prayer?
Are you at peace regardless of the answers you get to your prayers?