Joy and happiness | Preparation Prayer
In order to be really present to today’s prayer session, let’s take a little time to prepare ourselves. This will involve quietening ourselves literally and figuratively. Firstly, find a good place to pray. If you are confined to your room, there’s not much choice. But remember, prayer is about real connection and not just perceived perfection. So find yourself in the best place you can.
Secondly, get in touch with what needs to be quietened in you today. You could think about three sites- your head, your heart and your body.
Notice what is going on inside your head. What are you thinking today and how does it differ from yesterday? Don’t get caught up in any thought in particular. Just notice how your thoughts are.
Notice what is going on inside your heart. What are you feeling today and how is that unique to this day? Again, don’t allow yourself to get too caught up in any feeling. Simply notice your feelings.
Notice what is going on in your body. How does your body feel today in comparison to yesterday? Notice the sensations you have- comfort, discomfort, pain, tiredness, restfulness.
Begin, now, to notice your breath. Perhaps breathing is difficult today. If so, go gentle and breathe as well as you can. As you do, acknowledge that each breath, however laboured, is a sign of the gift of life within you. Give thanks to God for this gift.
As you sit, breathing and giving thanks to God, allow your body to become heavy where you sit or lie. Allow a sense of quietness to come over you. This may take a few minutes. Stick with it until you feel ready to proceed with our prayer session for today.
Prayer theme: Joy and happiness
Joy and happiness are two different things, although they are obviously related. There are things in our lives we feel happy doing or experiencing. For example, watching a good movie makes us feel happy for the time we’re watching it. Happiness is very much in the moment, and it can be good. But joy is a different thing. Joy is a deeper sense than happiness. We feel happy watching a film, but feel joy when we see a good friend whom we haven’t seen for a while. Joy is different.
Having that extra glass of wine, or that bigger slice of cake, might make us happy in the moment, but the next day (or sooner) we may be left feeling that it may not have been such a good idea. Joy is different here too. The things that give us joy do not come with the sense that they might not be a good thing. The things that make us joyful are the things that make us whole, or make us grow, or show us that life is good and precious.
Going swimming or taking other exercise may make us feel tremendously happy. But reflecting on the fact that we have the ability and opportunity to do this may fill us with a sense of joy and thankfulness. So, happy in the moment, joyful after the moment.
Then there are things in life that might not make us very happy in the moment but leave us with joy. We think here of making a sacrifice for someone. In the moment, we might feel aggrieved or put out. After the fact, reflecting on the sacrifice we’ve made, we might feel joy at having done a good thing or the right thing.
To live lives of joy is not to depend on happiness or temporary experiences. It is to seek out the better path and walk it. It is to see the good and the better in all people and to love them. It is to know that we too are loved, held, cherished and special.
James 1:2-3 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1. What makes you happy?
2. What makes you joyful?
3. How can you live more in joy?
Lord Father God, thank you for this time of prayer that I have undertaken, united with all others who are praying this day.
I am also united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning with love for all creation. In this unity I sit, one of many and one of your beloved.
I ask for the continued help of your Holy Spirit as I end this time of prayer to enter back into the business of my day.
Help me to take the lessons I need from this prayer time today. Help me also to leave behind me anything that I do not need to take with me.
Above all, help me to know that I stay connected to you at all times and that I only need to pause, breathe and pray to become deeply aware of this.