Prayer and Praise

If you saw a giant man a mile away, he wouldn’t look very big. But if you were standing right before him, you couldn’t help but praise him. You wouldn’t say, “Praise you!” You would say or at least think, “My, you sure are big!” You would describe his dominant features. Worship is ascribing to God His divine attributes. It would not naturally flow from you if you were unaware of God’s presence and you thought He was far off. But if you were suddenly ushered into God’s glorious presence, you would immediately and voluntarily burst forth in praise: beautiful, awesome, big, loving, kind, powerful. In fact there are no words that can adequately describe His majesty.

When we practice God’s presence, worshipping Him is a natural process as it was for David in this Psalm 138. When we get entangled in the daily affairs of life, it is easy to lose a conscious sense of His presence. Then is when we need to worship God the most. God is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23), but not because God needs us to tell Him who He is. He is fully secure within Himself. We need to worship God, because we need to keep the divine attributes of God continuously in our minds. There will be times in our Christian experience when we don’t sense His presence. During these times we need to continue believing that He is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and our loving Heavenly Father.

When David prayed, God answered him. Being aware of God’s presence made him bold and stout-hearted (Psalm 138:3). An awareness of God’s presence and an acknowledgement of who He is are essential prerequisites for prayer. Jesus taught us how to approach God in the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13):

Saying “Our Father in heaven” implies that we have a relationship with Him. As children of God we have the right to petition our Heavenly Father. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ made access to God possible. Saying “Hallowed be your name” is an act of praise. It is an acknowledgment that God is Holy. You approach a judge in a court of law by saying, “Your honor.” If you show disrespect, you can be held for contempt and thrown out of court. We approach God with even greater respect. The throne of God is the ultimate authority of the universe and there is no other judge remotely like Him in glory and majesty. Saying, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” means that His kingdom plans and priorities supersede ours. We try to ascertain God’s will in prayer. We don’t try to convince Him of our will. It is His kingdom we are trying to build, not ours. “Give us this day our daily bread” is a petition for real needs, not selfish wants.

Dr. Neil

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