DEVOTIONAL: Prayer and praise: A powerful combination (Part 2)
By Dr. Gregory B. Boyd, Pastor
First Baptist Church, Hartsville
In my last article, I brought up the subject of prayer. Every religion includes prayer as one of its disciplines. People who never attended church still understand that prayer is part of religion, and are usually okay with the phrase, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” While some Christians commit to a daily routine dedicated to praying for their family, the sick, their church, and the nation, most believers would admit that their prayer life is lacking. How can we get to the point of enjoying praying without it feeling like a duty we must endure? Praise is a good way to start. We thank the Lord for what He has done but we praise Him for who He is. Have you ever praised God through the Alphabet? I started this in the mid-1980s. I volunteered to help out at a chapel service at one of the prisons where I lived. One night, I drove to the prison only because I was committed to be there, but I had to confess to the Lord that I didn’t want to go. I was too busy. I soon realized I needed to change my attitude in order to not be hypocritical. I knew about the power of praise. God inhabits the praises of His people, and praise forces us to draw our attention away from our problems and onto the marvelous nature and character of the Lord. That night I decided to go through the alphabet and think of a name or character trait of the Lord that began with each letter. Try it! Fill in the blank: “Lord, I praise You because You are … ” Here are some ideas: Abba (meaning Dada or Daddy), Romans 8:15 Almighty, Genesis 17:1 Alpha, Revelation 1:8 Anchor, Hebrews 6:19 Anointed, Psalm 2:2 Answer, Romans 7:25 (NLT) Atoning Sacrifice, 1 John 4:10 Awesome, Deuteronomy 7:21 Beautiful, Psalm 27:4 Beginning, Revelation 22:13 Beloved, Matthew 12:18 (NLT) Blessed (and the one who blesses), 1 Timothy 6:15, Ephesians 1:3 Bread of Life / Bread from Heaven / Bread of God, John 6:33; 6:35, 6:41 Bright Morning Star, Revelation 22:16 Brother, Mark 3:35 Caring, Nahum 1:7 Chosen One, Luke 23:35 Christ, Matthew 16:16, Luke 2:11 Comforter, 2 Corinthians 1:5 Compassionate, Luke 6:36 (NLT) Consuming Fire, Hebrews 12:29 Cornerstone, Ephesians 2:20 Counselor, John 14:16 Creator, Genesis 14:19 Crucified, 1 Corinthians 1:23 Deliverer, Romans 11:26 Deity, Colossians 2:9 Delight, Psalm 43:4 Desire of All Nations, Haggai 2:7 (NKJV) Divine, Romans 1:20 Door, John 10:9 Dwelling Place, Psalm 90:1 You get the idea. Keep going on your own. You should discover that your Goliath-sized problems diminish when you realize who God is and praise Him for it. It’s not that your problems automatically disappear, it’s that praise gets you to a place where you can pray and trust the Lord more effectively. You should notice that your attitude and countenance change when you praise the Lord. If you attend church regularly, you might hear the term “Praise and Worship,” referring to the music part of a Sunday service or mass. While singing joyfully to the Lord can certainly be a form of praise, please don’t think that you have to sing in order to praise the Lord. The writer of Psalm 119 got it right when he proclaimed, “Seven times each day I stop and shout praises for the way You keep everything running right” (119:164, MSG). Keep praying! Start with praising.