I wonder if God ever feels like a fast-food worker at a drive-up window.
“Hi there, God. Let’s see, I’ll take a large order of blessings, some good health, a job promotion, and hmmm…I do feel like dessert today. Let’s make it a 2-scoop sundae of sunny weather. And I’m in a hurry, so if you can fast-track that, it would be great. Thanks, God!”
Okay, so maybe we’re not QUITE that bad, but some days we come close. We meet with God in prayer, thanking Him for a few things and asking Him for a lot of things.
The Bible teaches that prayer should consist of both praise and petitions.
God certainly desires that we make our petitions known to Him. We are told to come boldly before His throne to “find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) But all too many times, that’s ALL we do. We skip the thanksgiving and get straight to the asking.
Today I’d like to share three things God has taught me about prayers of praise and thanksgiving. Of course these are not the only ways to worship God, but they have helped me incorporate thanksgiving into my prayer life each day.
One: Praise God by using His names and attributes.
What this looks like:
Pray through the names of God, thanking Him for being these names to you.
“Thank You, Lord, for being Jehovah-Jireh to me, and providing everything I need. Thank You for being my Good Shepherd and protecting me. Thank You for being my Savior and saving me from my sins. Thank You for being my Wonderful Counselor and guiding me.”
Scripture abounds with names of God. We are told He is our rock, fortress, sun, shield, hiding place, high tower, protector, provider, creator, father, refuge, strength, hope, and healer. (There are many more, but I’ll let you study them on your own.)
Choose a couple of these names to focus on each day and pour out your thanksgiving to God for how He embodies these things in your life.
In a similar fashion, we can pray through the attributes of God.
“Thank You, Lord, for being all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing. Thank You for being the embodiment of love, joy, peace, faithfulness, goodness, justice, and wisdom.”
Praising God by praying through His names and attributes not only pleases Him through worship, but it also helps us by getting our focus off ourselves and unto our Almighty God.
Two: Praise God by thanking Him for everything–the big and the little things.
What this looks like:
Make a mental or physical list of all the things God has given you, and pray through it, thanking Him for each one.
Warning: When you get going on this one, the list can get long! But that’s a good thing. 🙂
We take so much for granted in our lives. My thankful list used to consist of home, car, job, family, school, church. Then it got a little more detailed when we lost hot water for two weeks. And even more detailed when when our toilet was broken for a day.
Take the time to pray through each room of your house.
“Lord, thank You for our bathroom with a shower and hot water, a working toilet, a sink to wash our hands. Thank You for our living room with couches and chairs, books and magazines, a place to gather as a family. Thank You for our kitchen with a fridge and freezer to keep our food from spoiling, a stocked pantry, a microwave, and a stove to cook our food.”
(You may be wondering at this point why I pray this way. A couple years back, nearly everything that could break down in our house and daycare, did. There’s nothing like losing the plumbing in a daycare to make you really, REALLY thankful for it! It made me realize just how much I take for granted.)
Three: Praise God by praying Scripture back to Him.
What this looks like:
Find verses that speak of worship, praise, and thanksgiving. (Psalms is a great place to start.) Personalize each verse and pray it back to God.
For example, Psalm 103:1-3 tells us, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.”
You might pray something like this, “Lord, I will bless you with my soul and all the strength that is in me. I will bless Your holy name. I will not forget the benefits You have given me. You have forgiven all my sins and healed me of my sin-sickness.”
Praying Scripture has become one of my favorite ways to pray. There’s just something about it–the words seem to bubble up like water from a spring in praise to God, then splash back down over my heart, quenching every longing of my soul. The Word of God is powerful, and praying those words literally breathes life into your soul.
I hope that in the coming days, we will take time for praise and thanksgiving as we pray, and not just drive up and give God our daily orders! 🙂
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” (Psalm 100:4)