Prayer. Have you struggled to connect with God through prayer? I have no problem telling God what I need and how I want His divine help in my life and in the lives of those I love. Intellectually, I know He hears and cares. But my prayers have often been a long list of my requests, with my needs as the focus. I’d pray about something and then move on with my day, wondering if it made a difference. Can you relate?
I’ve known people with meaningful prayer lives who truly seem to be able to converse with God. I’ve heard messages on prayer, read articles on prayer, participated in Bible studies on prayer. But putting all that knowledge into practice didn’t come naturally to me. My prayer life default was still me giving God a shopping list of the ways I wanted Him to intervene and change situations. It didn’t touch my soul.
I knew prayer should consist of more than my needs. Most teaching on prayer highlights different components: praise, confession, and thanksgiving in addition to requests. The Lord’s Prayer and other prayers in the Bible model incorporating all these elements. I realized my prayers especially lacked praise.
My prayer habits began to change when I started praying together with some other women as part of an organization called Moms in Prayer. Our local group met for one hour each week to pray for our children and their schools following a particular prayer model called ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication/Special Requests. Some of our prayer time was spent focused on each of these elements. These women taught me how to pray and showed me the tools to incorporate praise into my prayer life.
Each time our group met, we focused on one attribute or character quality of God, read verses highlighting that trait, and then incorporated those Scriptures into our prayers. I discovered how to praise God by echoing what I read in the Bible.
I learned to pray: “God, You are able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine. Nothing is impossible for You. I can’t even dream all that You are able to do. You are able to bless abundantly. Because of You, at all times and in all ways I have all that I need. Lord, I praise You because You are able, and I rest in Your ability to provide and care for me and those I love.”
As praise became a bigger part of my prayer time, I began to notice surprising personal benefits.
Praise makes God bigger. I’m reminding myself of who God is, all that He has done, and all that He can do. God becomes my focus. And that right-sizes my own problems and struggles, diminishing my worry and anxiety.
Praise puts God in His rightful place on the throne of my life. He is worthy to be there. It helps me live in right alignment with God as my highest priority. I am dependent on Him. I need Him to be who He is: Provider, Defender, Helper, Comforter, Father.
Praise teaches me more about the character of God. My faith has grown as I have learned more about who God is. Over time, I’ve developed a long list of attributes about God that I’ve relied on in hard times. I can remind myself of the Truth of His perfect character and care when I’m facing a challenge. He is truly worthy of praise!
So how do I incorporate praise into my prayers?
I spend one week on a particular attribute of God. Using different resources (including Google), I read Scripture that highlights that character quality and then “pray back” what I’ve read, repeating and personalizing the verses. I intentionally think about that quality throughout the day, letting it marinate in my mind. The Holy Spirit brings new perspectives throughout the week. And to keep me on track, I use an ABC method, working through the alphabet with a new letter and quality each week. I keep a notebook where I jot down the attributes.
Here’s a list of some of God’s characteristics to get started:
- Blessing Giver
- Immutable (never changing)
- Omniscient (all knowing)
- Yahweh (I AM)
Praise has helped me connect with God in beautiful ways, growing my understanding of who He is. I invite you to join me in spending time daily in praise, intentionally focusing on the character and nature of God. He deserves it, and I believe your faith, like mine, will grow through this discipline of prayer.
Vel originally shared this to her personal blog – check it out here.