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As ministry leaders, we tend to think we have a pretty decent grasp on the concept of joy.

We can sing songs about joy and preach sermons about it. Philippians 4:4 rolls off our tongues so effortlessly: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (NKJV). But when facing challenges, we often neglect joy and therefore miss its transforming power in our lives.

I used to think that the opposite of joy was sadness. But everything changed when I realized that the opposite of joy is unbelief.

Joy is different than happiness. It has to do with a choice we make to believe God and rejoice in Him, no matter the circumstances.

When we put our confidence in God and His ability to work, we choose joy. We surrender our control and self-reliance. Doing that, we welcome the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). Fruitful ministry will follow from a life filled with true joy.

This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5]

Personal Prayer:

1. Prayerfully acknowledge any challenges that have been burdening your heart and start rejoicing in the Lord over those situations. Declare your confidence in God and His redemptive power.

2. Confess any places of unbelief or ways that you need to surrender control to God. Share those areas with someone else so that they can stand with you in prayer.

3. Pray that our churches across the nation would experience a renewed environment of joy that would produce a fruitful harvest.

Foursquare Focus:

4. Please pray for Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr., who had surgery last week to close up a large ulcer. Ask the Lord for complete healing for Glenn’s body, and for the space to rest during the extended recovery period.

5. Pray that our pastors would have new learning opportunities and for the funds to access them. Ask the Lord to inspire hunger in our leaders so they can lead larger and learn.

Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.

is the senior pastor of New Life (Frederick Foursquare Church) in Frederick, Md.