Joyful in Prayer

“In all my remembrances of you I thank my God, for you are always in every one of my
prayers. I pray for you with joy” (Philippians 1:2).

St. Paul says that he remembers his friends at Philippi every time he prays. How fortunate it would be to one of them. He prayed for each, by name or by remembering the faces. He gave thanks to the Lord Almighty and let them know it. They brought him great joy.

Some of us pray always for others, but we don’t let them know it. However, it’s such a wonderful feeling to be aware that you are not alone. Though you may feel lonely, somebody is thinking of you. We get notes on occasion in the mail: “Just thinking of you.” It lifts our spirits—a kind thought not to be disregarded. It’s a link between two people. But a prayer is more—it’s a bond of love connecting two persons with the Lord.

Odd that St. Paul says“my God!” See how personal is his bond with the Holy Trinity. Here is something intimate, a witness to the truth that God is Person, and our relationship is that of love. It won’t do to treat our association with Him in the abstract. God is not a kind of powerful Being external to us and far outside of the universe. Paul’s God is concerned with all life on earth, with all people and each one personally, yet making each human being feel as though he or she is the only one that matters. Jesus makes that clear when he tells us that God even knows exactly how many hair follicles we have on our heads.

How delightful to know that St. Paul prays for them with joy. Happiness is contagious. If they feel out of sorts, they need only enter the sanctuary of their souls to sense the Spirit binding the Apostle to them, and absorb the grace of happiness. Joy is contagious. Nobody likes to be around the gloomy and downcast. When a person begins with self-pity and whines his complaints, some spirit inside us whispers a message: Get away before this grief afflicts you. Depression also is contagious. Soon we catch the mood of the despondent one and recall the gripes and grief we can conjure up, though until that moment we had suppressed them.

Joy also is infectious. Joy is Paul’s basic nature, because he is naturally optimistic about life. Whatever worries us is potentially a learning experience. Paul prays that whatever we are confused by, whatever frustrations we experience, God will help us find a way out. Joy is positive. Paul sends the Lord a message: Please be aware of my friend’s plight. If she is sunk in a dark pit and cannot find her way out, send her, Lord, an angel to lead her to the light.

Joy is more than an attitude; it’s a victory sign. It charges a spiritual current through the body, mind and soul and energizes the whole person. Instinctively we want to be near those persons who radiate that energy. Maybe that spiritual electricity will recharge our soul’s battery and fire up the motor of our outlook and personality.

Joy conquers loneliness. You alone may feel cut off from all others, even friends and family. You convinced yourself that nothing good can come to you; you’ve tried to gain control of your life, but each time you failed. There’s no point continuing, you only frustrate yourself. Better to surrender to hopelessness. However, what you cannot accomplish by yourself, you can do with the Lord. God and you will triumph, and that awareness is a joyous insight. If you believe that in your heart, you must feel His joy within your soul.