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Prayers of Praise

Psalms is a hymnal of sorts- a collection derived from at least seven different writers of various forms of Hebrew poetry that were typically utilized through rhythmic chanting or singing.   But in essence if not in terms of origin, most of these psalms were prayers.  They expressed the writer’s faith and trust in God because of their understanding of who and what He is as “God,” as well giving voice to their fears, frustrations, and doubts when they couldn’t reconcile their concept of Him as “God” with the realities of their current circumstance(s).

But what fueled these psalms was the writers’ knowledge of God.  Their understanding of Jehovah as “God” beckoned them into fellowship with Him, which in turn produced greater understanding of His nature (cf. John 3:3 where seems to indicate the same) that then in turn overflowed to effervescing praise.   Simply put, knowledge of God induced fellowship that produced greater understanding that then necessarily provoked praise.  So where is all of the above heading?  Good question!

Have you ever prayed and DIDN’T ask God for anything?  No “entreaties” for yourself and no “petitions” for someone else (1Tim.2:1), just praise?   Of course our benevolently kind heavenly  “Father” wants us to entreat and petition Him, cf. Matt.7:7-11, but some of us pray like we’re presenting “our list” to some sort of celestial Santa Clause “God.”  Additionally and unfortunately, “our list” is mostly if not entirely composed of physical things.  Look back at the “model” prayer wherein Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matt.6:9-13 and answer this question:  How many physical things were included in this “model” prayer?  One.  And what was it?  “Daily bread”- the basic sustenance needs for one day.  All the rest of the prayer was spiritual in nature with the only other requests being that of “forgiveness” and leadership, vv.12-13.  Could not the rest of this “model” prayer be categorized as praise?  Now think about the makeup of our prayers.  Is there any praise included at all?  Are the requests we make more physical or spiritual in nature?  Why are our prayers lacking in praise and filled with mostly requests that are physical in nature? 

Let’s go back to where we began for a possible answer: the Psalms.  These prayers, often filled with and characterized by praise, stemmed from knowledge of God that lead to fellowship with God that generated greater understanding of God that produced abundant praise of God.  Can we not “reverse engineer” this process to conclude that if praise is lacking (in our prayers or lives), then there is most likely a problem with our knowledge of, our fellowship with, and/or our understanding of God?  Let’s let just one of the psalms of praise serve as an example, Psalm 100:

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

Knowledge à Fellowship à Understanding à PRAISEThere is one more thing that can enhance this “process” of praise:  Practice.  If we’re not accustomed to praising God, practice will help.  So, try writing out a prayer with nothing but praise of God in it. Take time over several days to add to other aspects, attributes, and actions of God for which He deserves our praise.  No entreaties, no petitions, just praise.  I think you’ll find, once you really commit to this exercise, that your knowledge of God will be bolstered, your fellowship with God will be enhanced, your understanding of God will be increased, and your ability to praise Him will become a naturally overflowing spring that never runs dry.  And oh by the way, as an additional benefit, our thankfulness to God will also be multiplied.  Give it a try, and let’s start praising God in prayer and song!

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