For over 15 years, I’ve led a monthly prayer meeting for the churches I’ve served.
One of the most inspiring moments is when we ask for people to share answers to prayer. Frankly, I’m not sure why we don’t do this more, because it is always deeply encouraging.
I’ve heard people rejoice over children who’ve come back to Christ, praise God for physical healing that confounded doctors, celebrate reconciliations that seemed hopeless, and offer thanks for employment that was provided.
Answered prayers bring joy.
That’s one reason why Jesus’ stunning promise leaped out at me as I was reading the Gospel of John:
“Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
Remember the Joy
Jesus connected the fullness of joy to asking and receiving in prayer.
The surrounding verses help us understand why. Jesus shared disturbing news. He told the disciples that in a little while they would not longer see him (16:16). They would experience sorrow while the world rejoices (16:21). The ominous clouds of Jesus’ departure loomed.
However, Jesus invited the disciples to pray with a new level of authority. As they prayed in his name, they affirmed his power, his rule, and his return. Praying in Jesus’ name connected their prayers to their belief that divine intervention can happen.
Therefore, the disciples of Jesus pray because they need God’s help. And when he answers, there is incredible joy.
Joy of Answered Prayer
Think of the last time when you experienced a specific answer to prayer. Do you remember the joy of knowing that God intervened? Didn’t it strengthen your faith? Didn’t it encourage others when you shared it?
Answered prayer confirms what we believe.
It brings great joy because we know God helped us.
Jesus told his disciples about the connection between answered prayer and joy so that they would pray. In a hostile and pain-filled world, Jesus invited his disciples to ask for help. And he motivated them with the offering of joy.
Recently I shared this principle with some of our church staff. I encouraged them to remember the last time they witnessed an answer to prayer. I reminded them about the joy they felt when God intervened.
Then I challenged them: “What do you need to start praying for so that your joy may be full?”
About a month later a staff member sat across a lunch table from me with a big smile on his face. He reminded me about the devotional on prayer and joy. He told me that he took it to heart.
Since my challenge he pleaded with God every day, asking him – begging him – for a desperate need in his life. He put John 16 into practice.
“God answered my prayer,” he said through a beaming smile.
For the next few minutes we talked about the power of God’s provision. He rehearsed the long and painful journey. He told me about his desperation. And we rejoiced together that God had intervened. The answer to my brother’s prayer made us both rejoice.
His joy was mine because of answered prayer.
There is something uniquely special when God answers our prayers. There is fullness of joy knowing that God has heard us and intervened.
I’m sure you know this to be true. You’ve surely tasted the joy of a miraculous answer to a desperate petition.
Jesus commanded us: “Ask and you shall receive that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
Perhaps its been a long time – too long – since you’ve prayed with joy in mind. Maybe you need to start praying and pleading with God over a need in your life.
When God answers prayer, our faith is strengthened. When God answers prayer, we rejoice.
So, for the sake of your joy, keep praying.
Mark Vroegop is the Lead Pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis, and the author of a new book entitled Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament.