Finding the joy of the Lord in motherhood

Joy isn’t something we celebrate as a culture, especially in motherhood culture. Joy seems like a nice concept, but not something to work for. 

Yet God’s Word tells us that joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it’s one a Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. 

While joy can be hard to find on our own, we can utilize prayers for joy based on Scripture. These seven prayers are designed specifically for Christian moms to find the gift of joy in the midst of motherhood.

What is joy?

Before we start praying for the fullness of joy, we need to understand what true joy is in the Bible. The joy of the Holy Spirit is more than just general happiness. 

When we’re talking about joy as defined by God, we are talking about a different sort of joy than just general happiness. The Greek word for joy is chara, which shares the same root as the Greek word for grace. 

So that means joy and grace come from the same place. God’s grace and everlasting joy go hand-in-hand.

Joy isn’t based on the things we have or can do. Instead, joy is a gift from God that we receive when we’re in relationship with Him.

A prayer for daily joy

Dear God, I ask that you fill me with your joy throughout every day. Help me to keep my focus on you so my attitude and spirit will remain joyful. Let my family see your joy in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Examples of joy in the Bible

If we want to live a joyful life, we have to understand that it takes time. Just like literal fruit, the Fruits of the Spirit take time to cultivate and grow.

Back in college, I had a friend who was full of joy. She radiated it. When I was going through a time of grief after losing a loved one, I resented her joy. 

In fact, I found myself thinking she didn’t understand hurt like I did or she wouldn’t be filled with so much joy.

As I got to know her better over the next couple of months, I learned that she knew hurt well. She had suffered a tremendous loss in her own life, yet she still had joy. 

God opened my eyes to see that having joy in spite of grief and pain is possible because He is the source of all joy — not anything else. 

There are lots of examples in the Bible of God’s people going through trials of many kinds yet living in the joy of God.

A prayer for growing in joy

Dear Heavenly Father, Please help me to cultivate your fruits in my life. Help me to grow to be more joyful in and through you. Open my eyes today to see you at work, no matter what. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray, Amen.

Nehemiah’s joy

God tasked Nehemiah with rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. What Nehemiah was really rebuilding, though, was the culture and legacy of the Jewish people that had been destroyed.

He had all sorts of challenges and struggles in this rebuilding. Even just keeping his workers motivated and on task for such a big project was difficult. Yet, he kept his eyes on the God of hope  as his source of joy. 

In the 8th chapter of Nehemiah, we read about Nehemiah reading to the people from the Book of Law – their Bible. The people were weeping over its instruction and wisdom. 

Nehemiah saw what was happening and said in these Bible verses from Nehemiah 8:9-10 (NIV):

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:9-10 (NIV)

Nehemiah is reminding his people that God is their strength. They have no reason to weep. 

Even in difficult circumstances, which will inevitably come, God is our strength and that fact can bring us great joy.

A prayer for joy from Nehemiah

Dear Lord, give me joy like Nehemiah is talking about. Help me to put aside my worries and concerns and just rest in the joy of your salvation as I go throughout my day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

David’s joy

King David spends the entire book of Psalms going back and forth between despair and the wonderful joy of the Lord. He talks about stressful times and good times both. 

And while he certainly had his challenges, David understood God’s steadfast love, even when he didn’t following through on doing the will of God.

In Psalm 30, we see that David was in a season of life where he’d been through hard times and gained perspective that darkness and pain don’t last forever.

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5 (ESV)

Sometimes our joy comes just in knowing that challenges don’t last forever and eventually good things will come along as well. 

Another way David reminds us to find joy is by simply looking around us. Psalm 92:4 (ESV) says that very thing:

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

Psalm 92:4 (ESV)

God’s creation inspires Christian joy. David realized when finding joy and gladness seemed impossible, he could always find it in looking at God’s creation from nature to loved ones and more.

A prayer to see more joy

Dear God, open my eyes today to see all the wonderful blessings that surround me. I thank you for all of your blessings and your faithfulness. Thank you that I can have joy in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Habakkuk’s joy

Habakkuk was living in a time when the Jewish people were being overthrown and overrun by the Babylonians. Life was miserable. 

The crops and livestock were being taken away. A wicked country seemed to be winning over God’s chosen people.

Habakkuk was confused. How could God be letting something so bad happen? Where was His justice? Why wasn’t He doing something? 

All three chapters of Habakkuk are his conversations with God. He poses these same questions and God responds that He knows what He is doing.

Finally, by the third chapter, Habakkuk has come to understand that he can trust God has a plan even when it doesn’t make sense. Even in the midst of suffering, he finds joy in God. 

This is what he says in Habakkuk 3:18-19 (ESV):

yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
            I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
         God, the Lord, is my strength;
            he makes my feet like the deer’s;
            he makes me tread on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:18-19 (ESV)

When times are hard — like they were for Habakkuk — we can find a joyful heart through the power of the Holy Spirit by remembering our salvation. 

A prayer to be full of joy

Dear Jesus, help me to rejoice in you today. I ask that you fill me with  joy so that I can live a life full of hope. Let that joy and hope radiate in and through my life. In your name, Amen.

Joy in the struggle

People in the Old Testament were certainly not the only ones who had to cultivate a life with greater joy. In Romans, Paul encourages the early church to have joy because it is beneficial in other ways as well.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

Joy goes hand-in-hand with hope. In the struggle of life, we need hope. It helps us to stay motivated and keep going. 

A life without hope is a dismal one indeed. By having peace and joy in believing in God, we will be filled to overflowing with hope.

James goes even further to tell us to be joyful about trials in James 1:2-4 (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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Finding joy in facing trials sounds impossible and downright ridiculous. But that is what James is telling us to do, because facing trials increases our perseverance and ability to keep going so that we fully mature and can do the work God has for us to do. 

So there is joy to be found even in the hard stuff.

A prayer for joy in the struggle

Heavenly Father, I ask that you help me to remember who you are so that I can have joy and hope in you even when life is chaotic and hard. Lord, I know I don’t have to rejoice about the struggle, but help me to rejoice in you in spite of the struggle. Let me be an example to my family and those around me. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Practical ways to find joy

Along with powerful prayers asking for God to give us more joy, some other steps can encourage us to live with more of God’s joy in our own lives. The best news is that none of them take a tremendous amount of time.

Remember Jesus.

The first thing we can do is remember Jesus. This sounds trite, but hear me out.

During one of the most difficult times of my life, I sat in church overwhelmed and at a loss. Nothing made sense and I couldn’t even bring myself to sing the worship songs. 

My mind was racing so much that I wasn’t able to focus on the preaching. I was crying out to God for help and then I noticed the cross sitting on the platform.

God poked my heart. Did I believe that He sent His Son to die for my sins? My answer was yes. 

Then nothing else truly mattered. He was still the same in the midst of my hurt and despair. I just needed to remember Jesus.

In fact, the shepherds heard the same message from the angel on the night Jesus was born. The angel declared the good news that “great joy” had come into the world. 

Jesus is and can be our joy all the time. When we are struggling to find anything joyful, we can remember the love of Jesus and rejoice in that.

Stay connected to God.

If God is the source of our joy, then we need to stay connected to Him. One important way to do that is by finding a group of fellow believers to connect and worship with. 

The best explanation for why we should go to church came from a preacher I heard decades ago. He said that he’d been married for many years. His wife did all the cooking. 

He couldn’t begin to list what he’d had for dinner every night of his marriage, but he knew he was fed.

Church is the same way. I can’t begin to list every sermon or Bible study lesson I’ve been a part of. But they have all fed me spiritually. 

We need that connection to God to remain in Him and receive His joy.

Look to the future.

As a mom, I can find joy in the tediousness of motherhood by knowing one day it will pay off. 

When I was potty training my children – a task I completely loathed – I continued to do so with the hope and joy of knowing one day they would no longer need diapers. 

Each phase brings its own challenges and thoughts of future rewards.

Sometimes when we are lacking in joy, we need to take a moment and look to the future. We know that joy is coming. 

In the middle of the struggle, take a moment to close your eyes and just imagine the perfection of heaven and being in the presence of God. 

Imagine Jesus pulling you in for a tight, warm, comforting hug. That is joy.

A practical prayer for more joy

Dear God, show me the practical ways I can live my life to have more joy in it. Help me to form the right connections I need to find encouragement on this journey so I can be joyful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A final prayer for joy

A prayer for more joy

Dear God, I thank you for all the gifts you’ve given me. Father, I thank you that you give me joy in this life no matter what happens. You are faithful and good. You have created so incredibly many good things that bless us and can bring us joy. Thank you for those blessings.

Lord, I ask that you fill me with joy. Remind me of who you are when I start to get sidetracked. Help me to keep my focus on you so that I can have joy in my heart every day.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Joy doesn’t mean life is perfect. Instead, it means that you serve a God who is. And that is something to celebrate daily!

Want to learn more about the Fruit of the Spirit? Be sure to check out these numerous resources!

Fruit of the Spirit worksheets for adults and teens (with 12 FREE resources)

Fruit of the Spirit for Moms YouTube Videos

The importance of love in the Bible and how to live it out

About the Author: Stacey A. Shannon

Stacey A. Shannon is a freelance journalist and blogger who has been published internationally. She's also a Christian, a wife and a mom of two school-aged children. She started Families with Grace in 2019 to encourage Christian moms as they create homes filled with grace, love and faith.

Be sure to get the FREE family devotion book, "Finding Grace at Home: 7 Days of 5 Minute Devotions for Families." It's a great way to help your family draw closer to each other and to God.

Motherhood can be lonely. You weren't meant to go on your motherhood journey alone. Connect with Stacey and other Christian moms like you in the private Facebook group, Moms with Grace!

And check out the books from Stacey A. Shannon as well!

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