By Bethany Verrett, Crosswalk.com
Happiness can be a complicated emotion in the Christian community. Some people sell happiness as the end goal of the faith with prosperity gospel messaging; earthly happiness is available to those with enough faith, and who ask. On the other extreme, there are people who believe Christians should not strive for earthly happiness, but joy focused on the eternal.
The Bible supports a more moderate view of these emotions. God both blesses people with things on earth that can bring them happiness, but also keeps bringing the focus back to Himself, and the eternal things which bring lasting joy. Christians can pray for happiness and joy, pursuing heavenly things while finding happiness in the life that has been given them on earth.
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Can We Pray for Happiness?
When studying the Bible, there is a distinction that emerges between joy and happiness. A review of different translations of the Bible in English makes that evident.
The following is a list of translations and the number of times the word “joy” appears:
- English Standard Version: 203
- King James Version: 187
- Christian Standard Bible: 236
- New International Version: 242
- New American Standard Bible: 260
- Revised Standard Version: 255
The following is a list of those same translations and the number of times the word “happiness” appears:
- English Standard Version: 2
- King James Version: 0
- Christian Standard Bible: 5
- New International Version: 6
- New American Standard Bible: 5
- Revised Standard Version: 5
Even when accounting for discrepancies due to translating from Hebrew and Greek to English, the large difference in the number of times each word appears in the Bible is noteworthy. So what is the difference?
Generally, happiness is considered an outward expression of positive feelings associated with love, pleasant events, things going a person’s way, and other good things. Joy is a choice, focusing on the positive, having patience, and focusing on things greater than the presence regardless of circumstances. Joy comes from the intentional pursuit of a relationship with God and finding reasons to rejoice whether one is going through good times or bad times.
God is the source of joy, so joy in a Christian comes from righteousness, and the Fruits of the Spirit. Happiness can be driven by good feelings that are godly, but it can also come from sinful, carnal, and worldly sources. Someone can be happy to do something wrong, or from seeing someone they do not like suffer.
Being able to pray for happiness can help ensure that someone is finding their sources of happiness in God’s blessings and righteousness. These blessings can be as simple as a nice walk on a good day to the rejoicing of a newborn baby. Praying for happiness can be a request for a blessing, for finding happiness in God’s will, and for many other things.
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1. A Prayer for Happiness and Peace
Thank you for being the source of all that is good. Thank you for being the bestower of righteousness, blessings, and gifts. Lord, you are the Prince of Peace, and the giver of all that is good. It seems that this world, and my life, is full of chaos, and it can be hard to focus on You, and the things that really matter. As everything continues to descend into sorrow and wickedness in the world, and I am constantly bombarded with things to do, I find myself distracted, anxious, and impatient. Lord, please send me peace through your Holy Spirit. I want to be happy and peaceful in the life You have given me, in all circumstances. Your Spirit brings peace, and I ask for that, in the name of Jesus Christ,
2. A Prayer for Happiness Amidst Difficulty
Thank you for being the God who walks besides those who love Him in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I rejoice in the continued presence of the Holy Spirit with me, so that I am never alone. Lord, I lift up a sincere request for happiness during this time of difficulty. Help me find joy, that I may be strengthened spiritually, and happiness that I may continue to engage with those around me with Christian love. Sometimes it can be hard to see Your hand moving when everything around me seems dark. Help me find happiness so that I can see Your work, even if I do not understand it fully right now. I know that You use all things for Your glory, and for my good. I ask that You keep my focus on You during this trial.
In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray,
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3. A Prayer for the Happiness of Others
Thank you for bringing wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ into my life for fellowship, for assistance, and for companionship. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit, which came first at Pentecost to create true unity between believers from all backgrounds. I know that I am often selfish, and I ask that You forgive me for this sin, and help me to focus more on others. Therefore, Lord, I ask for happiness for those around me. Through the ups and downs of life, and the uncertainty of the world, I lift up those around me. Please grant them moments of happiness and supply all their needs according to Your riches in glory, for You are Jehovah Jireh. Send them blessings, and good health. I pray that they will find both joy and happiness.
In Jesus’ name, I pray,
4. A Prayer for Happiness and Strength
Thank you for being the rock upon which I can build my life. Thank you for being my fortress, my refuge, and my salvation. Lord, I need strength to continue to pursue the race before me. I ask for happiness, boldness, and strength every day. While I know there will be hard times, I also know that with You, all things are possible. I wish to live a life that is full, and is a testimony to Your goodness. Empower me to do so, and help me to find both joy and happiness while doing so, even through hardship.
In the name of Jesus, I pray,
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5. A Prayer to Feel God's Love
Thank you for being the source of all love and righteousness. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die so that my sins could be forgiven, and so that I could have a true loving relationship with You, the living God. Help me feel Your love as I go through this world. Sometimes I know in my head that You love me, but in the midst of strife, it can be difficult to make that connection with my feelings and my heart. Man’s heart is fickle, but powerful. Help me feel the Holy Spirit and to be reminded of Your love by my brothers and sisters in Christ. I come to You in prayer so that I may fill myself up at the spring, for You are living water, and I am thirsty. Keep my eyes ever set on You, so that I will never forget how much You love me, and will for eternity.
In Jesus’ name, I pray,
Wanting to be happy is not a sin, and praying for happiness is not a bad thing to do. Ultimately, pursuing joy will be able to sustain a person through persecution, suffering, pain, and spiritual warfare, but pursuing happiness for the right reasons is a good way to shine a light in a dark world, be more godly, and it can even help someone find more reasons in their daily life to give glory to God.
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