“A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.”
Prayers of Praise
Many people consider prayers of praise to be the “highest” form of prayer. Why? A prayer of praise is all about God. We ask for nothing, we seek nothing, we focus on nothing but God himself.
Compare that to when we thank God for things we received. When we confess things we did. When we wait upon the Lord so that we may sense His presence or hear from Him. And when we ask for something, it’s either for us or we’re acting on behalf of someone else.
But when we praise, it’s God and only God. At its best, it’s completely self-forgetting, the very idea of what it means to be a Christian.
Some people struggle with the idea that God wants or needs our praise. They find it odd that a Supreme Being would require praise from His created unless He also had a Supreme Ego. Please feel free to set aside those kinds of thoughts.
Think instead of a mother when her 5-year-old child hands her a drawing made especially for her. What’s happening in that mother’s heart? Then magnify the tenderness of her heart a million times over and you still won’t be close to understanding how tender God’s heart is for us. And how much it must mean to Him for us to praise and adore Him, no matter how meager our attempts. The God of love, Who is love, loves to be loved. We were created for a relationship with God: a love relationship. Praise God for that!
So why don’t we praise God more often? For one, it’s not something that comes naturally; we have to learn how to praise. When it comes to asking for things, most children seem to learn on their own. They need help learning to say things like “Thank you” and “You’re the best.” But even after we’ve learned the lesson, there are often other things that get in our way of praising God.
Inattention is probably the primary culprit. We get caught up in the daily press of life. And it’s not just those high-achieving, corporate-ladder-climbers, totally focused on career. It’s just as easy to get caught up in family, friends, even church service. Remember that old saying: “Those the devil can’t turn, he makes busy.” It’s too easy for us to get too busy to notice the really important things and so we miss opportunities for praise. It just doesn’t occur to us.
And those few things we do notice, we tend to take for granted. A backyard slowly coming to life for yet another day while the sun rises. A rainbow after a summer shower. A child learning to read her first words. A baby.
How often do you tell your spouse of your love? How often do you tell your children how much you love them? How often do you tell God?
If you think your prayer life could do with more praise and worship, here’s a suggestion: make a conscious effort each day to notice something to praise God for. Put it at the top of your To Do list. Don’t be afraid to start small. Just observe what’s going on around you. Don’t over-think, over-analyze or even start with the idea of looking for something to praise. Just try to look at life through the eyes of a child, with complete awe and wonder. Sure, you may be able to give a scientific explanation of a blue sky and the colors it becomes as the sun sets. Forget the explanation and instead allow yourself to simply observe, enjoy, and become a part of that awesome magnificence.
Albert Einstein said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Once we’re in the habit, prayers of praise are often spontaneous. They also lend themselves well to devotional or scriptural styles of prayer. Start with the Psalms; not every one is praise, but it’s an underlying theme throughout. Try Psalm 150. Similarly, songs can often give us words of praise we can sing and make our own, moving our hearts to praise just as the heart of the songwriter was moved. Prayer walking offers many opportunities for praise, as does simple conversational prayer. One of the beauties of Christianity is the personal relationship we have with God. Tell Him you love Him. Accept His love in return.
Brennan Manning writes of Jacques Maritain, “…a world-renowned, 70-year-old philosopher, skipping across a hilltop in Toulouse, France, and shouting to the heavens, ‘I’m alive, I’m alive!’ Having experienced sudden and utterly surprising rapture at the gift of life, the joy of being invested with existence, the privilege of being rather than not being, Maritain sank to his knees whispering words of praise and thanksgiving.” (Ruthless Trust)
Let us all make the effort to notice, so that praise then becomes a natural response to the wonder around us, a natural response to God. And fast on the heels of praise is thanksgiving.
Go to Prayers of Thanksgiving