Prayer and Scripture can bring healing to our lives when we are walking through a hard season. We can make time for joy in the midst of it.
I’m not sure how many months passed before I realized that my prayers had grown silent. Our family had been through a trying time and at the beginning of it, I prayed endlessly. But then, things shifted, and grief settled tight, and instead of praying, I would sit quiet.
I know many of you reading this have been in similar seasons, where all your words broke, and life felt heavy and dark and sad.
There is no question that grief is a hard pill to swallow and learning to hold tight to Christ while your heart is breaking brings a new depth to faith that is hard to explain to those who haven’t walked through it.
There were two things that helped me crawl out from under the weight of that season:
The first was reading the Word. Not in huge sections but in tiny bites. Slowly adding snatches of the Psalms or I John or the Epistles back into my diet.
The second? Finding words to pray again. Sometimes through music. Sometimes through other people’s prayers. Sometimes with my own stuttering thoughts.
It may sound cliché to say that prayer and Scripture are what healed me, but it’s true.
Prayer and Scripture made easy
When I was asked to read Make Time for Joy by Linda Evans Shepherd, I couldn’t help but remember those days as our family worked through grief and I learned to embrace Scripture and prayer once more. At the time, I wasn’t able to digest theological works about grief or joy. I needed things that were simple and gentle. This is exactly that type of book.
Unlike many books that talk about joy, this isn’t a self-help book or a Bible study book. Instead, it’s simply prayers and Scripture verses that are designed to help you find your own words and His words about whatever season you’re walking through.
Make Time for Joy can be used as a daily devotional book, but it also has an extensive table of contents that allows the reader to search for certain topics. There are five main sections that the topics are divided into.
1. Joy Builders
2. Defeating Joy Stealers
3. Reclaiming Joy
4. Living into Joy
5. Worship into Joy
A few examples of the subjects inside those sections are:
· God’s comfort
· Breaking Free from Lies
· Renewing Your Mind
Each topic has a prayer that the reader can pray for themselves and a short collection of Scripture verses on that subject. The book is designed for older teens or adults but could also easily be used as a read-aloud for family devotions.
One of my favorite prayers in Make Time for Joy is from the section on discouragement. Shepherd writes,
“If Job could trust You, even in the face of loss, mockery, and death, then I can trust You, even in the face of my own calamities. The psalmist David also faced discouragement as he lived on the run, dodging the armies of his own father-in-law. King Saul would have killed David if he could have caught him, but You protected David from capture. David rejoiced in You because when he sought You, You answered him and delivered him from his fears. That’s one of the reasons David declared that all who look to You are radiant, their faces unashamed. Let my countenance also shine as I praise You. Just as You did with David. You hear my cries and pay attention to my prayers! When my heart is weak, I call to You. Lead me to safety, to Your rock of refuge, a tower of strength in the face of my enemies. Let me live in Your tent forever and keep me under the shelter of Your wings.”(Make Time for Joy, pg. 66)
Prayer makes space for our words and Scripture reminds us of His
I’ve lived through so many seasons of discouragement, and I love how this prayer brings up the truth of Scripture, along with the reminder that Christ is our refuge in all circumstances, no matter how discouraging or difficult life is in the moment.
While earlier in my own life I wasn’t one to recite prayers written by others, I have learned to find comfort and hope in the liturgical practice of reading prayers. It can be a gift, when one’s own words are struggling to form, to be able to borrow a fellow Believer’s words for a moment. And it is so comforting to have Scripture verses right there with them, bringing to mind what God has to say about the matter.
If you, or a friend, are walking through a difficult season Make Time for Joy may be exactly the type of book you’re looking for to bring encouragement and gentle reminders of God’s character and love into your life.
As I shared, I truly believe that prayer and Scripture are what have brought healing to some of my hardest seasons—so I love that this book offers both in a gentle, comforting format.
Let’s Make Space for More Joy, More Hope, More Love
My deepest prayer is that each of us will find more of Christ every day—more joy, more hope, more love—more of all the things that heal us and redeem us and bring us closer to Him. And I hope, no matter what season you’re currently in, that this becomes your prayer as well.
Here at Club31Women, we recognize that not everyone has the same taste or point of view on books, music, or movies, but we offer these short reviews for your consideration. Our hope is that you will find something new and wonderful on this list of recommended resources!
~ Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women