An All-Purpose Prayer for Everyone on Your Prayer List

Okay, that’s a cheesy title, I admit. And if you know me at all, you know that I don’t usually use a lot of generic prayers (“Lord, Have Mercy” being a notable exception). That’s because I usually like to talk to God about my loved ones and let Him help me to pray exactly what is needed, when it is needed. Nevertheless, when I was reading Colossians the other day, I rediscovered a prayer that really is perfect for anyone and everyone.  The prayer is just that good!

Here it is:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. (Colossians 1:9-11)

I thought of the people I most often pray for and the issues that concern them. They want me to pray that God will help them find a mate, overcome depression, grieve a loss, deal with red tape, wait for a prodigal, manage finances, save a marriage, or heal from illness. Does my prayer list sound similar to yours? But here’s the really cool thing—the prayer Paul prayed for the Colossians covers everything these dear ones need most!

After all, who doesn’t need “great endurance and patience” for situations like these?

Who doesn’t need “all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”?

Who doesn’t need to be “strengthened with all [God’s] power?

And, whether they know it right now or not, who doesn’t ultimately want to be in God’s will, “[pleasing] Him in every way” and “bearing fruit in every good work?

As I meditated on and prayed that short text, I realized that the bottom line is knowing God and knowing His will. The best we can ever do is to be filled with the knowledge of His will and continually getting to know Him better—in real relationship and experience. When we really understand how good, beautiful, strong, and kind our God really is, everything else falls into place, whether relationships, jobs, health, finances, or reputations.

Put Yourself in the Story

In last week’s post, “Call to Worship,” I wrote about how God had powerfully spoken to me as I was reading a short passage in Joshua 5. His message to me was clear, compelling, and intensely personal to my life situation right now—and it came as a complete surprise. I’d not even intended to talk to Him about the subject He brought up.

How do such meaningful conversations between God and me take place? God speaks to me in various ways, but the primary one has always been through Scripture.

There are many helpful ways to approach Scripture. For the purposes of opening up conversation with God, however, I have found one in particular to be most beneficial. I call it “entering into the story.” It’s not difficult to do, and yet the results—an encounter with God—can be life-changing.

Basically, it involves putting aside the approach to reading that many of us have been taught in our western educations. That approach tells us to master the text—which is an appropriate goal for learning biology or history. But God’s Word is not a biology or history textbook. It is the His living word; it contains words of life, God’s very heart and soul. I am not to “master” it—it is to master me!

So, to enter the story, the first thing I try to do is to lay down my tendency to dissect and analyze what is being said. I don’t have to figure it out. I don’t have to put what I read into neat theological boxes. My aim is to engage with God, to let Him meet me and talk to me about what He wants to discuss.  There is a very important place for systematic Bible study. But I separate that kind of study from what I’m describing here.

Once I’ve laid aside my need to figure out the text, I ask God to sanctify my imagination. He gave me my imagination, after all. With my imagination I can set my heart and mind “on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). I can fix my eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). I can think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8). All of these require using my wonderful, God-given imagination.

“But I don’t have any imagination!” I can hear some of you protesting. I understand. I used to think that, too. However, as my friend Jan Johnson says, “If you can worry, you have an imagination.” She’s right. If, in my mind’s eye, I can picture all sort of dismal possibilities for myself, my family, my friends, my work, or my house—well then I certainly can, by God’s grace, use my imagination to think about the truthful, good, and lovely things that God wants me to hear and know.

Some of us just need some training in learning to use our imaginations positively. So let me make some suggestions. When you wish to enter into a Scripture passage, consider your senses of sight, smell, hearing, and so on. For instance, if you are reading a passage that describes Jesus walking by the sea, imagine the sound of waves and seagulls, the smell of fish, the feel of sand on your feet and sun on your face, the taste of salt on your tongue. See yourself there with Jesus, observing or participating in whatever He is doing. You might like to put yourself into the story as one of the disciples or a servant, or a bystander. But get yourself into the scene as deeply as you can. This often requires multiple readings of the text with long pauses in the reading or between readings. This is a leisurely reading, so don’t rush it.

Let yourself soak in the scene as if you were actually there. Notice what you are feeling. Are you happy? Apprehensive? Perplexed? Afraid? Joyful? Peaceful? Ashamed? Notice what you are thinking, too. Are there questions you want to ask? Objections you want to raise? Praise you’d like to express? When you have thoroughly saturated yourself in the passage, feel free to speak to God or Jesus. Be as honest as you possibly can be. Then wait for His response. Notice not only His words, but also His facial expressions and body language.

Would you like to try it? John 8:1-11 is a great story to practice on. When I meditated on this passage a while ago, I asked the following questions to help me enter into the story. Then I had a conversation with God about the things that stirred in me. Here are the questions I used:

• How does it feel to stand in that circle of accusers? What do I see? Smell? Hear? What’s the atmosphere or mood of the group like?
• How do I feel as the Pharisees and teachers of the law pronounce their sentence on me?
• What are my thoughts when they asked Jesus for His opinion? What do I expect Him to say? What do I hope?
• When Jesus goes between me and my accusers to spare my life, what thoughts and feelings do I have?

Why is reading Scripture this way so helpful? For me, entering into Scripture like this opens up my heart in ways typical Bible study doesn’t. I’m often surprised by what happens when I enter into Scripture this way. Feelings bubble up, new ideas come, longings surface—I discover things about myself, God, and my world that I never would have known if I had approached Scripture in my usual, linear approach. And then, when I talk to Jesus about these things I’m feeling and noticing, He meets me there and talks with me. And that’s always the best part of prayer for me.

Call to Worship

I’m an action-oriented person. I like to make things happen and get things done.

God knows this about me, of course. But it doesn’t seem to influence Him much in the way He orders my life. For instance, God currently has me in another season of transition.  He’s moving me out of one thing and into another—but the problem is, He hasn’t let me know yet into what! I am eager to know “the next thing.” I’m ready for Him to give me my marching orders. I want to get started already! Time’s a wasting!

So I try to help Him out and hurry things up. I analyze. I research. I seek counsel. I strategize. And of course, I pray. I practically make a pest of myself, asking Him over and over again what He wants me to do.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that God is not in the big rush that I am. He reminded me of that again this morning when I was reading in Joshua 5. The Israelites had just crossed the Jordan River. The long-awaited Promised Land was finally in sight—it was theirs for the conquering. And conquer, Joshua was ready to do.

As you may recall, Joshua, was Moses’ successor, and the commander of Israel’s army. He was a man of action, a strategist, somebody who liked to rally the troops and get the job done. I like Joshua. He didn’t let grass grow under his feet.

So one day, as Joshua no doubt was planning his strategy to take over Canaan, he encountered a formidable stranger. A mysterious man stood in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.

Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”

“Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.”

At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said.

Then, Joshua said what any action-oriented person, get-things-done kind of person would say:

“What do you want your servant to do?”

I came to a dead stop in my reading. I knew the Lord was speaking directly to me. Joshua’s words could so easily be my own. How very often God hears me asking, “What do you want me to do, Lord?” “What’s my assignment, Father? Just tell me what to do, and I’ll get right on it!”

It was as if I’d never read the story before. I honestly couldn’t remember what came next. So, slowly, I returned to the page and resumed reading:

The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told. (Joshua 5:13-15, NLT.)

Stunned, I let the Bible slip from my lap. This was a call to worship, not to war. There were no marching orders for Joshua. Instead, the commander of the LORD’s army ordered the commander of Israel’s army to take off his sandals and worship. The grass growing under Joshua’s feet was holy grass on holy ground.

And, in those sacred moments in my living room this morning, I realized that God really isn’t interested in rushing me into my next assignment. He wants my worship more than my work. He wants me to be still and know He is God. He wants me to sit at His feet while somebody else works in the kitchen for a change. He wants me to let holy grass grow under my bare feet.

Have a Heart

In this posting I share with you an article I wrote for Ministry Magazine a couple of months ago. It’s about a topic near to my heart, and one that I’ve not heard many other prayer leaders talk about: engaging our hearts–and not just our heads–in prayer.

Have a heart: Praying from your heart and not just your head

A few years ago, I met a pas­tor who prayed from his heart. His prayers exuded the deep understanding and compassion of Jesus. To be prayed for by him was to enter the presence of Jesus Himself and experience His love.

But, this pastor told me, he had not always prayed or ministered that way. For years, his ministry focus was on preaching and teaching. He spent hours studying the Bible, reading books on leadership, and strategizing church growth. He kept his mental faculties strong—but almost completely neglected his heart. That is, until one memorable worship service when he stood before his congregation and had a nervous breakdown.

In retrospect, the pastor told me that the breakdown was one of the best things that had ever happened to him. God used that painful experi­ence to help him attend to his heart and allow Him to heal the hidden brokenness and pain. And, when he returned to his congregation months later, he was a new man. No longer just a preacher and teacher, he was truly a pastor, a shepherd—one who could reach the hearts of his people and not just their heads.

Since that time I have met quite a few ministers who struggle with a similar heart-head disconnect.They come to the prayer retreats I lead because they know they have neglected their hearts. They know that the neglect hinders their ability to relate to God intimately. And they start realizing that this private neglect is hampering their public ministry.

“I struggle to relate to God inti­mately myself,” one of these pastors recently confided to me. “So how can I lead my people into an intimate prayer conversation with God?”

I empathize with these ministers. I can understand why some of them hold their hearts at arm’s length. Until God did some major work on my heart, I did not appreciate or take care of my emotions very much either.

Just the facts, ma’am

By personality, I am an analytical, thinker type. My first professional job was as a reporter for a daily newspa­per. “Just the facts, ma’am,” was my motto, while anything touchy-feely perturbed me.

My background is German English—a heritage notorious for reserve and infrequent displays of tender emotions. As I was growing up, I remember seeing my mother cry only one time and my dad only twice. By the time I was a teen, I never cried either.

In my view, that was a good thing. To be honest, I was pretty proud of the fact that I lived in my head. Living life mentally felt safe, while allowing for emotions, on the other hand, seemed downright risky.

God’s first challenge

But God challenged me on that in two specific ways. The first challenge was Frank. Frank was an exuber­ant worshiper and lay elder in my church. One time he preached from Mark 12:30: “ ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” ’ ” He talked about how loving God with just one part of our being was incomplete love; God desires to be loved by every part of us.

I cornered Frank afterward. “I’m not an emotional person,” I protested.

“Doesn’t matter,” Frank said. “It still applies to you.”

The Bible is an emotion-filled book

Frank’s provocative words began a shift in my perspective on emo­tions. In particular, I started noticing all the emotions expressed in the Bible. To my consternation, I discov­ered it was full of them! One day I stumbled over Hosea 6:4, and there I found God sounding exactly like a frustrated, wounded dad: “ ‘What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.’ ” I studied further and discovered that when we turn away from God, His heart is “filled with pain” (Gen. 6:6) and He gets jealous and angry (Deut. 32:16); but when we turn back to Him, He feels delight and rejoices over us with singing (Zeph. 3:17). Among the many examples the Holy Spirit led me to, several stand out.

In Joel, I read, “ ‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weep­ing and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (2:12, 13).

I noticed God saying almost plaintively to Jonah: “ ‘But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?’ ” (Jon. 4:11, NLT).

I even saw Jesus being emo­tional: “ ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!’ ” (Luke 13:34).

Frank’s challenge and my new way of looking at Scripture set me on a journey that I am still walking on. I could no longer be content to live in my head alone. I had to learn how to engage my heart as well.

Changes in how I pray

As you can probably imagine, this journey has had ramifications in nearly every aspect of my life—how I work, relate, and minister and, soon, I was to realize, it would also change my way of praying.

For years, I had prayed primarily from my head. Prayer usually went something like this: I would learn about a situation and analyze the needs, concerns, and problems associated with this situation. Then I would size it up from my perspective: What did I think needed to happen in order to fix this problem? What was the logical, biblical solution to this situation? And then I would ask God to do that.

For example, when I volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center, I prayed for funding to help unwed mothers and for laws that would support life.

In the various churches and Christian ministries I worked in, I would pray for clear communication of God’s Word and ways, for more laborers, for budgets to be met, and decisions to be made wisely. For our government, I would pray that corruption and abuses of power would be exposed and dealt with. If a friend’s marriage was in crisis, I would pray that each partner would recognize where he or she had been selfish or inconsiderate (or unfaithful or whatever) and that he or she would repent and treat his or her spouse the way God intended.

My approach to pain, difficulty, and sin was to find a corresponding truth and pray for that. This included the way I prayed for myself. I would sum up my personal situation—what I needed to do, believe, or be—then ask God to help me discipline myself to live in that truth so I would, in fact, do, believe, and be what was right.

Occasionally, I wonder about those prayers I prayed. Were they effective? Well, sometimes sin actu­ally was exposed and dealt with; sometimes good laws were passed and funding did come in; often God’s Word was preached and occasionally people responded, and sometimes I did experience spiritual growth. So in that sense, yes, my prayers were effective. But as I started ponder­ing the heart-mind connection, I wondered if there could be more to it than that.

God’s second challenge

A few years after Frank’s mes­sage, I received another challenge to my head-only way of living and praying. My husband received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis that resulted in 11 years of debilitating illness and his death at the age of 46.

During that season of relentless pain, struggle, and loss, my heart became overwhelmed. I hated feel­ing—but I could not help it. Feelings showed up uninvited.

Well-meaning people offered all kinds of answers—spiritual prescrip­tions, advice, explanations, and fixes. But mental understandings alone did not cut it for me anymore. Answers, even logical, biblical ones, were not enough. Just believing the right things and making the right choices would not get me through this crisis. Perhaps for the first time in my life, my feelings were more than I could manage in any kind of sustained way. Though I desperately tried to deny, stuff, or ignore the feelings, I could not do it. I finally had to admit to both God and friends that I felt—and I felt bad. I was scared, discouraged, frustrated, and lonely. And I did not like it!

However, when I did allow myself to feel and even admit those feelings to God and others, something sur­prising happened. Whereas before I had persevered through each day in a mechanical way, now I was feeling. Sure, a lot of it was painful, frighten­ing, and hard but, to my amazement, I also began to feel warm and tender feelings. When I had tried to shut myself off from pain and other nega­tive emotions, I also had cut myself off from positive emotions, such as compassion, understanding, and mercy. Gradually, as I opened up my heart to God and people, I was actually able to feel His love and care. This was a new thing—and it was very, very good.

Some people, who knew how to pray from their hearts, would pray to God for His mercy for me. They asked God to care for my heart and give me hope; they asked Him to help me feel His love and compassion for me and His understanding of what I was experiencing. This abundance of prayers actually did give me hope and helped me press into God with my heart and not just my head. And for me, this was an entirely new kind of prayer. Experiencing prayer like that made me want to offer it to others. But how? Could a person who had always lived in her head learn how to intercede for others from her heart?

Praying with your heart

This new season sent me back to the Scriptures to see what God had to say about praying with the heart. Here are a few scriptures that stood out to me:3

  • “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 4:29).
  • “ ‘Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God’ ” (1 Chron. 22:19).
  • “They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul” (2 Chron. 15:12).
  • “They said to me [Nehemiah], ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:3, 4).
  • My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek” (Ps. 27:8 ).
  • “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart” (Ps. 119:2).
  • “ ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ ” (Jer. 29:13).
  • Solomon’s prayer: “ ‘And if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you . . . then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause’ ” (1 Kings 8:48, 49).
  • Paul: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my broth­ers, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Rom. 9:2–4; see 10:1).

Differences between heart-and head-praying

So how does praying with our hearts differ from praying simply with our heads? Because we use our minds and hearts differently, the prayers we pray from each will be focused differently.

On the one hand, we use our minds to (1) discern right from wrong, (2) solve problems, (3) make judgments, (4) make decisions, (5) form convictions, (6) make policies, and (7) understand issues. So, when we pray from our minds, we are likely to pray about (1) issues; (2) behav­iors; (3) justice; (4) judgment; and (5) principles, morals, and values.

On the other hand, we use our hearts to (1) love, (2) empathize and sympathize, (3) mourn and grieve, (4) relate, (5) show compassion and pity, (6) desire, and (7) dream. So when we pray with our hearts we are likely to pray for (1) people (as opposed to issues, events, and things); (2) heart healing (as opposed to behavior correction); (3) God’s love, grace, and presence to be experienced; (4) hope, peace, comfort, and mercy (as opposed to judgment, trying harder, and “shaping up”); and (5) God to be known as He truly is.

What difference does it make?

With these things in mind, how might I have prayed about crisis pregnancy centers, churches and ministries, government, and mar­riages? I still might have prayed for exposure of sin and conviction, but I also would have prayed for God to pour His love into the hearts of wounded people; for is not every sinner a wounded person? I might have asked God to heal hearts; to restore broken relationships; to reveal Himself in mercy, grace, and kindness. I might have prayed that the Lord would meet people’s innermost needs for security, sig­nificance, and acceptance, and that His kindness would lead to repentance—if, in fact, repentance was what was needed.

Does learning to pray from my heart mean that I no longer pray about wrongs being righted, prob­lems being solved, sins being turned from, and all the other mind-oriented prayers I used to pray? Of course not.

 God gave us hearts and minds, and I believe He intends us to use them both. But it seems as if many of us rely more heavily on the head side of praying and miss out on the heart side. I know I did!

Integrating heart and head

Learning to pray with both heart and head might not come naturally to you at first, but the good news is you can learn. And you do not have to go through a nervous breakdown or the death of a spouse to do it. But you will need to give yourself permis­sion to feel. If that is tough for you, ask God, and maybe a safe friend, to help you. God made you in His image, emotions and all, so let Him help you accept this uncomfortable but beautiful gift.

Then, when you grow more com­fortable with your feelings, invite God to help you pray with your heart. Here are some simple steps you could try. Think of something you would like to pray about. Now think about how you ordinarily would pray concerning this request. If you are like many head-oriented people, you will probably think of head-type prayers: wisdom for decision mak­ing, creativity for a project, success in a medical procedure, or healthy interaction among peers. Now think about how this prayer need affects you (or the people you are concerned about) emotionally. Feelings, such as worry, longing, helplessness, frustra­tion, inadequacy, resentment, and so on, may rise to the surface. For a moment, allow yourself to really feel those emotions. Then consider how God might want to meet you or the people you care about at this heart level.

As you do this, you will begin to see God in a more personal way than you would have otherwise. He is not just a divine Problem Solver but a compassionate Person who wants to comfort your heart, lift your burden, and reveal more of Himself to you. You may recognize the ways He wants to use these situations to deepen His intimacy with you, nurture your trust, and bring peace to your restless heart. You will start to see that He does not merely want to fix problems. He wants to care for your heart and shepherd your soul. God wants to reveal Himself as the Father, Counselor, and Friend that He truly is. If you try these simple steps,

I believe that you will see a marked difference in how you pray—and in time, in how you pray with and minister to others.

Unexpected benefits

Although my heart journey started with wanting to love and engage with God more completely, there have been unexpected side benefits. By permitting myself to acknowledge my pain and allow for a full range of emotions, includ­ing hard ones, I have become a safer, more compassionate, more approachable person. In my earlier days, people sometimes described me as “intimidating.” While it was not uncommon for people to seek me for advice, it was unusual for them to share their heartaches with me. But, like the pastor I wrote about in the introduction to this article, getting in touch with my own feelings opened up whole new ways of ministry for me. Before, I could engage intellectually with others; but now I am able to engage at a heart level too.

I am still not what most people would call touchy-feely, and I am certainly not given to emotional­ism—but I am a person who has come to deeply appreciate the fact that God has made me in His image—and that includes a heart as well as a head.

Pray up for Yourselves Treasures in Heaven

I spent last Saturday sifting through the ashes and broken pieces of a couple of Colorado Springs families’ burnt-out houses looking for something, anything, of value. On that particular day, more than 160 of us volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse to come alongside homeowners who had lost everything in the recent fires. It was tedious work. Teams of 20 or so people were assigned to the rubble that once had been someone’s house and home. Half of the team shoveled blackened fragments into buckets while the other half poured the contents of the buckets onto large screens, then sifted through them, looking for anything even remotely recognizable.

In an entire day’s work, this is what I and my partners found: a handful of quartz chess pieces, fragments of ceramics and pottery, an intact but thoroughly melted wine glass, two marbles, some bottle caps, a barely recognizable charm bracelet,  a house key, and a charred page from a French textbook. Not much to show for a day’s work—much less, years of living.

I thought of my own house—what would last if it were to burn? Hardly anything, I’m sure. The fires reached temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees. Not much survives that kind of heat. And even if it did—would I ever be able to find it?

My mind turned to 1 Corinthians 3:13-15: “But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss” (NLT).

What am I building spiritually that will survive the test of fire? I thought of the things I pray about; if God answered the prayers I most frequently pray, would the things I’d prayed for survive testing by fire? I realized that some would—prayers along the lines of “the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33)—but others, sadly, would not.

I was starting to feel discouraged. God, I want my prayers and labors to last. I don’t want them all to be destroyed so I have nothing to show for my life! I was surprised by what happened next. In my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus with a sifting screen standing next to a burnt-out house, like the ones I’d worked at Saturday. I realized He was sifting through my house—my life’s earthly work and prayers. At first I was crestfallen—I was sure I had accumulated a lot of wood, hay, and stubble that would vaporize under extreme heat. But I looked again and was amazed. He searched with loving intensity. He was seeking out treasure—and He wasn’t going to overlook anything. To my astonishment, He actually was sifting things of value out of the ruins. He’d find something, smile with delight, blow the ashes off of it, polish it with His hands, then lovingly set it aside in order to resume His painstaking efforts.

I marvel at His love. I am amazed at His resolve. I am in awe that He so painstakingly would seek out the best in me, sifting through bucket after bucket of ash in order to find a few treasures.

My heart is moved by that picture—His love compels me. I want Him to find something valuable when that day comes. Jesus, help me to lift my eyes to “things above” (Col. 3:1-2) and help me to lay up—and pray up—“treasures in heaven” (Mt. 6:20). Give me Your prayers—ones for Your kingdom and righteousness—so that on that day of fire-testing, You will find things that last. I want to give You that joy and pleasure, Jesus, for nothing would give me more joy.