By Rebecca Barlow Jordan, Crosswalk.com
We all want happiness, but we may not be sure how to ask God for it or what it really means. At one time or another, we’ve all tried to find happiness in a few ways that disappointed. Are happiness and joy the same? Does God really want us to be happy? Here is a prayer that might help answer those questions for you:
A Prayer for Happiness
Lord, I long to know and experience happiness in my life. Doesn’t everyone? And I’m not sure exactly what that means. But you do. I’m not talking about shallow pleasures. Those come and go, and the wrong kind leave us empty and unfulfilled. I’m not asking for success—at least not the kind promised in this world. I’ve seen the result of ladder climbing—and ladder falling. Some reach the pinnacle of success and discover happiness was only an illusion.
What I’m looking for is not the absence of conflict, Lord, though I admit that does seem appealing at times. Who doesn’t want to live in peace? Who wants to experience difficulties, temptations, and struggles like a butterfly squirming to morph from its cocoon and fly? Not me. Nor am I pleading for wealth or recognition—some distinctive way to prove to others and myself that I matter, that I have value. No, the happiness I desire is so much more than skin deep. It’s bigger than my circumstances and larger than my emotions.
It doesn’t change with Facebook likes or rants or with what I see in the mirror. I want to know when my eyes open in the morning that I am steadfast, secure, and bold enough to choose happiness. I don’t want it to slip through my fingers every time a challenge tests my stamina and belief system. Lord, forgive me when I may have consciously or unconsciously blamed you for any unhappiness in my life. Help me to take ownership of my own responses and reactions.
I guess what I really want is you, Lord, and the deep down, on-your-face, in-your-heart kind of happiness that translates into joy and contentment, no matter what. And Your Word says you love to give us that kind of joy. As a fruit of the Spirit, it’s a product of the character you build in us, and of the work you are accomplishing through us.
True happiness—true joy—is what I’m asking for, Lord. I want to experience the kind that comes from being in your presence, from seeing life with godly wisdom and your perspective, guilt-free, pure, and merciful. I’d love to know the kind of joy and happiness that raises my hands in sweet adoration of you and bows my knees in ultimate submission to your will. I want the kind of happiness that trusts you, obeys you, and follows you regardless of where that path leads.
I’m asking for the kind of happiness that makes your heart happy, the kind of “be” attitudes that translate into blessed, spirit-filled living. Only you can put that kind of joy in my heart. Only you, Lord, can paint a true smile on my face. Only you can make my joy full, complete, and lasting. Because the kind of joy you offer doesn’t just end after a day, a month, or a year. You give eternal joy that lasts forever.
That’s what I’m talking about, Lord. That’s the kind of joy and happiness I want.
In Jesus’ name,
What Does the Bible Say about Happiness?
In most translations, the Bible uses the word joy rather than happiness. But often it is used interchangeably. Sometimes the same word can mean “blessed,” or “to be congratulated,” as in Jesus’ words to His disciples in the Beatitudes. Even the words “gladness,” “satisfaction,” or “delight” often refer to happiness or joy.
Both believers and unbelievers may experience happy moments or events in their lives. But the kind God wants for us is joy that comes both by choice and by gift. The kind of “happiness” Jesus refers to is not just a temporary state of mind, but a permanent state of the heart and soul. We can’t produce it, but we can choose to receive and exercise it by faith. We can also decide to obey the command to “rejoice always.”
The Bible warns about happiness that is fleeting and unfulfilling, like the desire for wealth, fame, or ungodly pleasure. But God wants us to be happy. He even helps us see that difficult circumstances in our lives actually help to produce a sweeter kind of joy and dependence on Him. He loves to surprise us with His grace, to fill us with godly joy, and He even dances over us with singing. And in both the mountains and valleys of our lives, Jesus wants His joy to be our joy—complete and eternal.
14 Bible Verses about Being Happy
Ecclesiastes 5:10 NLT
Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!
Psalm 32:1 TLB
What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over!
Psalm 30:5 NLT
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 28:7 NLT
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Matthew 5:6-10 TLB
“Happy are those who long to be just and good, for they shall be completely satisfied. Happy are the kind and merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. Happy are those whose hearts are pure, for they shall see God. Happy are those who strive for peace—they shall be called the sons of God. Happy are those who are persecuted because they are good, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Psalm 37:4 GNT
Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desire.
Proverbs 3:18 CEV
Wisdom is a life-giving tree, the source of happiness for all who hold on to her.
Psalm 94:19 NIV
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
Proverbs 15:13 NIV
A happy heart makes the face cheerful.
Psalm 64:10 CEV
May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them celebrate.
Psalm 89:15 VOICE
How happy are those who have learned how to praise You; those who journey through life by the light of Your face.
Psalm 16:11 NIV
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
John 15:11 NIV
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Galatians 5:22 NLT
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.
Is There a Difference between Joy and Happiness?
While the two words joy and happiness can be interchanged in the Bible, depending on the translation or paraphrase, the permanent joy God offers is the kind that is found only in Him, through obedience to Him, and through relationship with Him. We often think of happiness as external, not internal, often depending on the situation. But we find both joy and happiness, not in our changing circumstances, but in our unchanging God.
If you are seeking true happiness and joy, ask God confidently to help you define and experience it. The One who loves to give generously, the One Who offers it faithfully, and the One who is Joy Himself, will answer. He died that we could know His joy, and He desires the best for us. He knows what will ultimately contribute to our deepest joy in this life—and forever.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is an inspirational author and passionate follower of Jesus who loves to help others find joy and purposeful living through deeper intimacy with God. She has authored, coauthored, or contributed to over 20 books and has written over 2000 other articles, devotions, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. Her daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Rebecca at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/diego_cervo