I have written quite a bit here on praise in the past few years. But in fact I am convinced that I have not written nearly enough about it. Jesus began His model prayer for us with a crescendo of praise. "Hallowed be thy name." I think it is important to note that Jesus is not simply giving us a mechanical order for the words of our prayers like the helpful A.C.T.S. of Prayer, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. He is saying praising God is to be preeminent in our character and the prayers that rise from it.
I recently heard a marvelous sermon on this by Tim Keller. He noted that neither confession nor petition can be right when praise is not preeminent in our thoughts. I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to this sermon.* I think you will find it to be uplifting and life changing even if you already understand this principle.
But this leaves me at a difficult place. How do I develop a heart that desires God's praise and glory above everything else? I have several suggestions of things we can do to affect our character in this way.
· First, ask God. I begin my morning prayer time each day by asking God to help me long for His glory above all things. I draw this from the implication that God's Spirit must produce every good thing in my life. However, I have not found a direct command or even an example of this in scripture. From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
· Think about all the reasons we have to praise God. Meditate on His majesty and power. Consider His wondrous grace and infinite love for you. The Bible is full of commands, examples and helps for this. Still, this is not my most important or biblical suggestion.
· The most important thing you can do to inculcate praise into your heart and life is to exercise praise. The scriptures are replete with examples and admonitions to praise and worship God. Jesus told us the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart. We are to lift up His name in praise. And you can be sure that when you worship the Holy Spirit is near. You would not be worshipping if He were not prompting. And you can sense His work in you as you praise God. As I begin my prayers with praise I note that my whole perspective changes. Sometimes I am even able to praise God for what I have been worrying about. This is God transforming my heart in the act of praise.
· Let me add one more word which is actually part of the exercise of prayer. Regularly engage in corporate worship. I find corporate worship reinforces my private praise. It is no small thing to begin my personal devotions armed with a hymn or scripture song that I learned at church. And my attitudes are often lifted as I remember worshipping together with others who lifted their voices with me in the family of God.
I would like to attach this prayer trailer for the movie War Room to some of my blog posts. It is certainly worth watching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXgC_HLLcCQ