Watching the Early Church Pray for Everything in Joy

Watching the early Church pray for everything for joy:

  1. The Early Christians called on God to exalt His name in the world.  (Matthew 6:9; Psalm 9:2)
  2. The Early Christians called on God to extend His kingdom in the world (Matthew 6:10; Revelations 21:4)
  3. The Early Christians called on God for the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13; Ephesians 3:19; Acts 4:31)
  4. The Early Christians called on God to save unbelievers. (Romans 10:1; Matthew 13:44; Luke 15:7)
  5. The Early Christians called on God for healing (James 5:13-15; Acts 8:7)
  6. The Early Christians called on God for strategic wisdom. (James 1:5; Colossians 1:9, 3:16)
  7. The Early Christians called on God for unity and harmony in the ranks (John 17:20-21; Philippians 2:2)
  8. The Early Christians called on God to help them know Him better. (Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 1:17)
  9. The Early Christians called on God to help them comprehend the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:14, 18)
  10. The Early Christians called on God for a deeper sense of assured hope. (Ephesians 1:16, 18, Romans 15:13, 5:2, 12:12)
  11. The Early Christians called on God for strength and endurance (Colossians 1:11, Ephesians 3:16; Nehemiah 8:10)
  12. The Early Christians called on God for their faith to be preserved. (Luke 22:32, 21:36; II Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 1:25)
  13. The Early Christians called on God that they might not fall into temptation.  (Matthew 6:13, 26:41)
  14. The Early Christians called on God to complete their resolves and enable them to do good work. (II Thessalonians 1:11, Colossians 1:10, Acts 20:35)
  15. The Early Christians called on God for forgiveness for their sins. (Matthew 6:12)
  16. The Early Christians called on God for protection from the evil one.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p.143-146

The Ground for Joy Remains at all Times

When this world totally fails, the ground for joy remains God.  Therefore, surely every prayer for life and health and home and family and job and ministry in this world is secondary.  And the great purpose of prayer is to ask that – in and through all his gifts – God would be our joy.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 143

Preparing for the Most Dangerous Deeds

God does not delight in reluctant, disinclined obedience.  And we do not feel loved when we are served begrudglingly.  Therefore, to labor for a person’s joy in Christ is not pampering.  It is preparing him for the most dangerous deeds of love.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 141

Praying for Joy is Preparaing for Sacrifice

Praying for joy is not the emotional pampering of joyless people.  It is preparation for sacrifice.  What’s at stake in the fight for joy is the radiance of the worth of Jesus made visible for the world to see in sacrifices of love flowing from the joy of blood-bought, soul-satisfied, Christ exalting people.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; 140

What Prayer Is

Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.

– Westminster Catachism on Prayer

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 139

The Devil Will Afflict You

For as soon as God’s Word becomes known through you, the devil will afflict you, will make a real doctor [teacher of doctrine] of you, and will teach you by his temptations to seek and to love God’s Word.  For I myself…owe my papists [Roman Catholic adversaries] many thanks for so beating, pressing and frightening me through the devil’s raging, that they have turned me into a fairly good theologian, driving me to a goal I should never have reached.

– Martin Luther

as quoted by

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 134-135

An Experience of Jonathan Edwards

Once, as I rid out into the woods for my health, anno[year] 1737; and having it [dismounted] from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension.  This grace appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also great above the heavens.  The person of Christ appeared ineffable excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception – which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour; which kept me the greater part in a flood of tears and weeping aloud.  I felt an ardency of soul to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated’ to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone’ to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in him; to live upon him; to serve and follow him; and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure, with a divine and heavenly purity.  I have several other times had views very much of the same nature, and which have had the same effects.

– Jonathan Edwards

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 133-134

Doctrinal Books as Sources for Personal Devotion

For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others.  I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a touching bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.

– C.S. Lewis

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 127

In What Way Shall We Attain This Settled Happiness of the Soul?

In what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul?  How shall we learn to enjoy God?  How shall we obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in him as shall enable us to let go the things this world as vain and worthless in comparison?  I answer, this happiness is to be obtained through the study of Holy Scriptures.  God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ.

– George Mueller

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 118

This is How Prayer Works

The reason the abiding of Christ’s words in us results in answered prayer is that it changes us into the kind of people who love what he loves, so that we ask for things according to his will.  This is not absolute.  It is progressive.  The more we know the living Christ by communion with him in his Word, the more our desires become spiritual like his desires, instead of just worldly.  This is what David meant [in Psalm 37:4].  The desires of the heart cease to be merely natural desires when the heart delights above all else in the Lord.  Delighting in the Lord – in the hallowing of his name and seeking of his kingdom and the doing of his will – transforms all natural desires into God-related desires.  That is what happens when the Word of Christ abides in us.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 108