Focal passage: Philippians 1:1-11
Sometimes when we pray, finding joy can be difficult. This is especially true when we are longing to see God change the circumstances around us. Whether you’re praying for provision, protection or the salvation of a loved one, waiting and praying can be hard. That’s why the joy that Paul expressed to the church in Philippi seems a bit peculiar. After all, he was in prison at the time. As we pray, we can take notes from Paul’s life about the source of his joy.
We can pray with joy because God has been faithful in the past. In the text, Paul recalls God’s history with him and the Philippians. He remembers all the things that God did in the heart of the Philippian believers and how He proved himself to be God among them. In the same way, we can look back at God’s work in our own lives. We can have joy because we remember that God has been good to us.
We can pray with joy because God is faithful now. Even when life is difficult, there is still evidence of God’s goodness around us. In this, we see that joy and suffering can exist at the same time. Difficulty does not diminish God’s character. Right now, God is working in many ways, big or small. Our joy comes from recognizing how He is taking care of us in the present.
We can pray with joy because of the promise of God’s future faithfulness. God’s goodness in the past and present indicates God’s goodness in the future. While Paul was in prison, he prayed with anticipation of God’s continued kindness to him and to the Philippians.
As we pray, we can rest, knowing that God will never cease to be who He is. He will always finish what He starts. This is true in our lives as individuals and in God’s plan to redeem the whole world. When our situation looks grim and we are longing to see the outcome, we can joy in God’s promise to be faithful.