Plugging Praise Into Prayer
Praise is a response we give in appreciation for something someone has done. No one is more deserving of praise than God. Some of the great reasons to praise God are: his creation of a universe which is beyond human comprehension; his great plan of salvation which brought us, as undeserving sinners, back into a relationship with him; and his daily provision by which he meets all our needs.
When we pray we’re often so keen to tell God about the issues we’re facing that praising him gets overlooked. It’s important to appreciate that praising God is not only something he deserves, it also has great benefits for us. Beginning prayer with a time of praise, rather than running through a list of problems, takes our focus away from ourselves, our weaknesses and our problems, and helps us to focus on him, his strength and his unconditional love and care for us. This doesn’t remove our problems but it does help put them into perspective.
Incorporating praise into prayer can be difficult, particularly if we’re feeling overwhelmed by an issue. Fortunately, we can learn from the example of others, borrowing ideas and phrases which appeal to us. Reading portions of the bible where the writer praises God, particularly Psalms, such as Psalm 19, Psalm 104 or Psalm 139, can give us material which we can use to form our own praise, as can words from a favourite hymn or song.
Considering what God has done for us, or how much he loves us, can also prompt us to praise, as it did for Paul when he considered the difference God had made to his life (see 1 Tim. 1:12-17; Eph. 3:14-21). Additionally, David reminds us that ‘the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands’ (Ps. 19:1), so experiencing and enjoying God’s creation is a great way of spurring us to praise him!
Frequently incorporating praise into our prayer times can completely change our perception of God, of ourselves and of the issues in our lives. Having a greater appreciation of him helps to put any issues we’re facing into the correct perspective: no matter how great they seem, they’ll never be greater than him (Jer. 32:17), and through him we can overcome them (Phil. 4:13).
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus1 Tim. 12-14 NLT
Sam Jones, The Church of God in Aberkenfig