This is a faith opinion column.
In the articles on how to organize one’s prayer life, we have looked at petition and intercession. As we spend time alone with our Father each day, we want to be sure to include a time for praise and thanksgiving.
These two are similar, but there is some difference. We praise God for who he is-his character. We thank God for what he has done.
Here are three practical suggestions for spending time in praise. (It is not necessary to do all three of these each day. Mix them up as you desire.) First, make a list of all the attributes of God you can think of. Here are just a few-eternal, immortal, the only God, holy, unchanging, faithful, loving, kind, and merciful. Add to the list as you think of others. As you pray each day, choose a few of those to praise God for.
For example, one morning you may pray something like this: “Lord, today I praise as the only God. You have no beginning and no end. You are eternal.” If you need to refer to your list of attributes for a while, that is okay. Eventually that will not be necessary.
Second, many of the psalms are psalms of praise. Psalm 23 speaks of the Lord being our shepherd. Instead of saying, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing, “personalize it like this: “Lord, I praise you today as my shepherd, and I trust you to provide all my needs.” Psalm 103:1 is already personalized by David, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”
Third, many of the great hymns of the church are hymns of praise. It has often been said that a Bible and a hymnal are two essentials for daily time alone with the Lord. If you do not have a hymnal, your church may have some old ones they will give you, or used ones can be ordered from your favorite source. As you begin your time of praise, select a hymn of praise and read or sing the words aloud to the Lord. A few suggested hymns of praise are, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “O for a Thousand Tongues,” “When Morning Gilds the Skies,” and “All Hail the Power.”
How do you like it when someone expresses adoration to you? We all love for others, especially our spouse, children or grandchildren, to express their adoration to us, typically done with words, whether written or spoken. The Lord also loves for us to express our adoration to him. That is really what praise is. When we are rushed for time in our daily time alone with the Lord, it is easy to skip the praise and go straight to intercession. Let me encourage you not to do that.
Thanksgiving is thanking God for what he has done for us or given us. That list could be endless, no doubt. However, there may be days when we just have a difficult time thinking of what to thankful for. When that happens, here are a few categories that you may find helpful.
First, make a list of material blessings. This list might include food, clothing, shelter, clean drinking water, bed, money, a job, medicine, shoes, electricity, Bible just to name a few. We just never take these things for granted.
Second, there are numerous spiritual/eternal blessings if you know the Lord. Such a list might include salvation, secured by Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, assurance of salvation, your future home in heaven, the promises of God found in the Bible, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in your life, prayer and answers to prayer.
Third, think of all the people in your life for which you are thankful: spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents and other family members. To that list might be added friends, school teachers, ministers, employers, employees, doctors, Sunday School teachers, good neighbors, and others who provide various services for you and your family.
There are days you may not even feel like praying at all, much less give praise and thanks to the Lord. Be honest with the Lord as you talk to him. Charles Stanley once remarked that on days when he does not feel like praying are the days he knows he needs to pray the most. There may be days that we don’t feel like God is even real or that he is not listening. That is where faith comes in. Step out in faith, and begin to give praise and thanks unto the Lord.
“It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night.”
Chip Warren is the past president of the Albertville Ministerial Fellowship.