For some, it’s not all silver bells and sugar plums. But here’s how to find real happiness this season.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s what the song says. It’s a time of joy! A time of celebration! A time of expectation. A time exclamation points! It’s the season of “Joy To The World,” silver bells, scarlet ribbons and visions of sugar plums, whatever they are. But for many people, the Christmas season produces more stress than joy. For some, it underscores their loneliness or illness or financial problems or family problems.
For all our hopes and dreams and expectations, Christmas can be a bummer.
Christmas joy may not be automatic or natural or even easy. But it can be real. We can pray our way to Christmas joy.
It sounds naïve, I know. But I think Christmas joy is a fruit of three kinds of prayers. If we focus our praying on these things the next couple weeks, we may just find more joy than we thought possible. Try it. Try praying these three kinds of prayers between now and Christmas:
1) The Prayer of Faith
The Gospel of Luke says that a whole bunch of angels appeared to a group of shepherds and promised “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10, KJV). But the joy was fulfilled only in those who believed the angels’ words. We aren’t told of any shepherd who was unimpressed or unbelieving. We just know of those who believed.
So pray for faith this holiday season—faith to believe in “good news of great joy.”
2) The Prayer of Focus
Christmas joy is not so much a product of what you see as it is where you look.
The Bible says that after the angel announcement, the shepherds “hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16, NIV). They looked in the right place. They found Jesus. And they found joy.
Where are you looking for joy this holiday season? From a nice Christmas bonus? A thoughtful gift? A visit? There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but they aren’t likely to bring you joy.
But if you pray the prayer of focus, your prospects will improve. Pray something like, “God, show me where to look, what to see. Let my focus be on You and on the joy You want for me.”
3) The Prayer of Praise
The story of the shepherds concludes with these words: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20, NIV).
Sounds like joy. And praise. Because they are related.
When you pour out your thanks and praise to God, something amazing happens. Your prayer for faith is answered. Your prayer for focus is answered. And you realize that the more you praise God the more joy you feel.