Prayer – Just God and Me (Part 1)

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Come near to God and He will come near to you.
James 4:8

Recently, I spent time with a new friend getting to know her better. While sipping coffee, we shared our experiences and expectations, our likes and dislikes, our hopes and fears. Just the two of us chatting together! Similarly, the best way to get better acquainted with God is to spend time with Him and talk with Him. In other words, pray. Each of us should daily have one on One conversations with the Lord, not only expressing our opinions and needs but also listening for His response. He will talk with us, Spirit to spirit, if we will give Him the opportunity.

 

The primary point for us to notice is the choice the people made. In verse 27 they said to Moses, “Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.” They encouraged Moses to meet with God but they did not do so themselves. God’s response to Moses is recorded in verses 30-31, “Go tell them to return to their tents. But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you….”

 

Moses is an excellent example of a man who talked with God. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 5:24-33. The Israelites wanted Moses to act as an intermediary between themselves and God. Although they had a reverential fear of God, I believe they also had a human fear of God.  This torment prevented them from seeking a face to Face encounter with the Lord.

They told Moses in verses 25-26, “Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?” Which was stronger – their fear of losing their lives or their reverential fear of the Lord?

The primary point for us to notice is the choice the people made. In verse 27 they said to Moses, “Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.” They encouraged Moses to meet with God but they did not do so themselves. God’s response to Moses is recorded in verses 30-31, “Go tell them to return to their tents. But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you….

Moses had a personal encounter with the Lord that the others were unable to experience because they chose to stay away. What a difference!

Relating the Israelites’ experience to our privilege of prayer, may we be encouraged to draw near to God. He desires to hear what is on our hearts through our words of praise and petition. Corporate prayer and support from prayer partners are legitimate forms of prayer (more on this next week), but they do not take the place of our privilege of personal one on One prayers. We deny ourselves beautiful times of intimacy with the Lord if we do not take time to personally pray.

In Exodus 34:29-35, we find the account of Moses’ face shining and reflecting God’s glory when he came down from the mountaintop.

Verse 29 says, “It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai . . . , that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.” In fact, Moses had to hide his face behind a veil because he reflected God’s radiance.

Verses 32-35 tell us, “When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

In Deuteronomy 5:29, God says,Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear Me and keep all My commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” The Israelites could have reflected God’s glory if they had reverentially eared Him. However, their hearts remained darkened and their minds blinded to the very thing they so desperately needed.

I see Moses’ veil as being a prophetic picture of the tabernacle’s veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (see Matthew 27:51) No longer need we be afraid to see the face of God or to be in His presence. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from any sin that would prevent us from being in His presence. Reverential fear of God is mandatory.  However, there is no place for human fear. What a privilege we have through prayer! Let us not deny ourselves this opportunity. When we experience the Lord’s presence during personal prayer time, we too reflect His glory.

In Leviticus 10:3 NLT, Moses explained to Aaron, “This is what the LORD meant when He said, I will display My holiness through those who come near Me. I will display My glory before all the people.” Today the Lord still desires to reveal His holiness to us if we will come near to Him. In Psalm 37:7 NLT, David instructs us, “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act.May we come into the Lord’s presence and take time to wait for His response. After all, prayer is a two-way conversation – we are not to do all the talking. May we echo the words of Samuel in I Samuel 3:10, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

 

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Jesus: Majestic, not Messy

In a few days, we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! My heart and our home are ready. Our house looks “Christmasy.” My attention continues to be drawn to our nativity. With the little lights of the stable twinkling and the infant Jesus in the spotlight, Christ is the center of our Christmas scene. Today I see Jesus – not the messy manger. What if there were cobwebs and straw piles along with some dung around the manger that night over 2000 years ago? My focus is on Jesus. He is the light and the life. Today I want to correlate several verses of the first chapter of Ephesians in the Living Letters translation with the birth of Jesus as recorded in Luke 2:7 NIV.

Now she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths,
and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7
NIV

When Jesus, Son of God and Son of man, was born, Mary used a cow’s feeding trough for a cradle. However, before she laid him on his bed, she tightly wrapped him in a clean blanket. What a discrepancy between the purity of the newborn baby and the messy manger!

Long ago before He made the world God chose us o be His very own,
through what Christ would do for us; He decided then to make us holy in His eyes,
without a single fault –
we who stand before him covered with His love.
Ephesians 1:4 LL

I focus on the highlighted portion of this verse. While thinking about Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths, I also picture myself swaddled in God’s love. All of us are privileged to be tightly wrapped in God’s perfect love even though we live in a world that appears to be like a messy manger.

Now all praise to God for His wonderful kindness to us and His favor that
He has poured out upon us because
we belong to His dearly loved Son.
Ephesians 1:6 LL

When Jesus was born, his cradle was a cow’s feeding trough. Thirty-three years later, he died on the cross creating the way for us to belong to Him. We no longer have to be controlled by the world’s mess. Jesus cleans up the messiness of our lives when He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. (See I John 1:9) As the emphasized words proclaim, we belong to Jesus, not the world’s messy manager.

And this was His purpose: that when the time is ripe He will gather us
all together from wherever we are – in heaven or on earth-
to be with Him – in Christ – forever.
Ephesians 1:10 LL

According to Matthew 1:23, Emmanuel was the name of the baby to be born of Mary and conceived by the Holy Spirit. Emmanuel means God with us. Emmanuel came to be with us at Christmas. Emmanuel will be with us forever! He is coming again to rescue us from the world’s messy manger. He will then take us to live with Him in the eternal city where He now resides in the throne room of God. (See Revelation 22:1-5) What a difference from the messy manger! Jesus says in Revelation 22:7, “Behold, I am coming soon!”

I pray for you constantly asking God the glorious Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you wisdom to
see clearly
and really understand who Christ is and all He has done.
Ephesians 1:17 LL

While gazing at the figure of baby Jesus in our nativity scene, I no longer see a messy manger. I  envision His majesty. He did not stay in a wooden cradle. He later died upon a wooden cross and rose again as the Savior of all who live in a messy world. Philippians 2:5-11 LL says, “Try to be like Jesus Christ Who, though He was God, did not demand and cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled Himself even further, going so far as to actually die a criminal’s death on a cross. Yet it was because of this that God raised Him up in the heights of heaven and gave Him a Name which is above every other name, That at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In honor of the birth of Jesus, please join me in singing the first verse of Away In A Manger and the chorus of O Come All Ye Faithful.


Away in a manger, no crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

 

 

Mary and the Messy Manger

As I survey my surroundings, I am aware of Christmas stuff scattered around our home.  While listening to the news reports, I hear of turmoil throughout the world.  Wherever I turn, there is another mess.  I pick up the hand-carved figure of Mary in our nativity scene and realize there were some messy situations in her life as well.  

I wonder what thoughts went through Mary’s mind that night when Christ was born. Most likely, she expected the birth of her first child to take place in a warm, cozy room. She may have imagined herself being surrounded by family and relatives in her hometown of Nazareth. I am quite sure she did not expect her newborn’s cradle to be a feeding trough shared with a cow! After all, who would choose a messy manger in the little town of Bethlehem for the birth of a baby? The answer – God. As Heavenly Father, God chose a messy manger for the birth of His Son! Mary’s perception was interrupted by the Lord’s plans and purposes. God did not do things predictably over 2000 years ago, and He still often does not do things as we expect.

Our Heavenly Father has plans and purposes for each of us as His kids. However, His plans for Jesus, His only begotten Son, were special. (see Jeremiah 29:11 and John 3:16) Being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary, Jesus came to earth not only to live but to die. He died so that we can be born again. (See John 3:3) Jesus relinquished His position beside His Heavenly Father to be born into the world’s messy manger and 33 years later to die for us. Although our lives may look like messy mangers, we are given the opportunity to die to ourselves and be born again. Then we receive the gift of eternal life. The sacred cycle of life and death occurs both physically and spiritually.

While holding the figure of Mary in my hands, I meditate upon the fact that Mary was privileged to hold God in her hands. She was the mom of Jesus. She was the first person to give God in the flesh a hug. Mary experienced a miracle firsthand!

The night of Jesus’ birth, Mary held him in her arms. In a few weeks, Jesus grasped Mary’s finger in response to her holding his little hand. I am reminded of how a person can wrap someone around their little finger. It is possible for a person to gain control over another individual and make that person do whatever one wishes. Although Christ desires to have preeminence in our lives, He allows us to make that choice. (See Colossians 3:18) I must admit that I would rather be held in the arms of Christ than for me to wrap Him around my little finger! Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Although the inanimate figure of Mary does not allow my hands to feel her heartbeat, another image of the closeness of Mary and the infant Jesus comes to my mind. I see Mary Mom holding Jesus close to her heart allowing him to hear her heartbeat while she is feeling the rhythm of his heart. Today Jesus wants us to hold Him close to our hearts so that He can hear our heartbeat and we can feel His. He gives each of us a new heart – a heart that is in love with Him. (See Ezekiel 36:26-27) God is love. Jesus is God. So, Jesus is love. Mary had the privilege of holding love in her arms. Now we have the privilege of holding Jesus, the love of God, in our hearts when we personally invite Him into our lives. (See I John 4:7-17)  Jesus in our hearts can help us handle the messiness of our lives.

My Reader, may you experience the love of Jesus in your heart.  Please join me in either singing or repeating the words of the first verse of the Christmas song Love Came Down at Christmas by Christina Rossetti.

Love came down at Christmas,
love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
star and angels gave the sign.

Preparing the Table

(Images provided by Pixabay.)

Today is the day before Thanksgiving in the United States of America. Many of us are busy preparing food for our dinner and all of us should be preparing our hearts for the holiday. Thanksgiving provides us the opportunity to set aside a particular day to focus upon those things for which we are especially thankful. While food will fill our stomachs, gratitude to the Lord will fill our souls for His ample provision and protection. Today, I want to combine thoughts of preparing food and preparing our hearts.  Let’s focus upon the table the Lord prepares for us. While I may be busy preparing physical food for a special day, the Lord prepares spiritual food for us every day.

You (the Lord) prepare a table before me . . . .
Psalm 23:5

What does the table the Lord prepares look like? I think of the table as being the communion table. When Jesus shared the Passover meal with His disciples, He instituted the Last Supper known today as the sacrament of communion. Matthew 26:26-28 says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’” The table and elements of communion portray Jesus’ broken body and spilled blood (the bread and wine/grape juice) upon the cross (the table). 

In comparison to the dinner table, the communion table has greater significance.  While gathering with His disciples for the Passover meal, Jesus showed us an example of gratitude. He gave thanks for the bread and the wine before He shared it with His disciples. We must make it a priority to give thanks to God for our blessings before we eat the food on our Thanksgiving table tomorrow.

Does the Lord offer additional “food” at His table? The bread and the wine/grape juice of the communion table are the best “food” because they symbolize Jesus.  However, I want to consider some additional spiritual food. First, there is milk and meat. Hebrews 5:12-13 says, “by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the nature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.Some Bible translations say “solid food” but the King James Version says “meat.”  Meat is the word I want to consider. Milk and meat can refer to physical food, but  what does the writer of Hebrews mean? According to translations of the Greek language, “milk” is gala meaning the basic teachings of true Christianity and “meat” is broma describing the deeper spiritual doctrine of the Gospel. Fruit is also available. Galatians 5:22-23 describes this fruit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

 Now I want to compare the  food I am preparing for Thanksgiving dinner to spiritual food. The Lord’s milk is not the same as the milk in the refrigerator.  Neither is spiritual meat like the turkey I am preparing to put in the oven. God’s milk and meat fill a spiritual hunger while my milk and turkey only curb physical hunger for a few hours. Although my cranberries and apples are tasty fruits, they are not nearly as life-giving as the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus, as the Bread of Life, is more satisfying than the yeast rolls I am baking.

What does the Lord ask of us regarding the table He has prepared?  Psalm 34:8 invites us to “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”  We can be refreshed and satisfied when we are in His presence. Also, the foods placed upon His holy table allow us to savor spiritual food.  Psalm 119:103 says, How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!What a delightful table the Lord prepares for us! His bountiful table is available 365 days a year while my Thanksgiving table is prepared only one day of the year.

Today is the day of preparing food and hearts for the Thanksgiving holiday. Tomorrow our family will gather around the table to eat the food I have prepared. Before we eat, we will take time to bow our heads and offer a prayer of thanksgiving. We will continue to express gratitude throughout our conversation during the meal. We willGive thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” according to Psalm 107:1. We will also be thankful for the spiritual table where we can gather throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are You Thirsty?

In a Sunday morning message, Pastor Bob Reeves made the following statement, “Jesus died thirsty so we will not go thirsty.” I have been thinking about this comment and want to share with you some of the understanding I have gained.

First of all, I validate the fact that Jesus died thirsty by noting the scripture of John 19:28, “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’” The soldiers who were near the cross offered Him wine vinegar on a soaked sponge. He took their drink but then spoke His last words, “It is finished.” This little bit of liquid could not have satisfied His thirst. He was still thirsty when He died.

The fact that Jesus died thirsty is rather ironic because He promises us living water. Listen to Jesus’ words in John 7:37-39, “‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Notice that Jesus does not say that He is the living water, but that He will give living water, the Holy Spirit. Such a beautiful satisfying promise for us!

There are two kinds of thirst – physical and spiritual. We all crave to have our cup filled at various times throughout our lives. At one point, we may desire a drink to satisfy our physical thirst while at another time we will experience spiritual dryness. There is reference to both thirsts in Isaiah 44:3. The Lord says, “For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants.Isaiah 12:3 refers to spiritual water, “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.

In the fourth chapter of the gospel of John, we have the story of Jesus asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of well water. John 4:9-15 says, “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’” In the beginning, Jesus and the woman were talking about physical water but their conversation concluded with reference to spiritual water. While our physical thirst needs to be repeatedly satisfied, Jesus told the Samaritan that when she received the living water of the Spirit, she would not thirst again. He still offers us this same message today. The Holy Spirit will continually give us a fresh drink of living water. However, we must heed the words of Paul in I Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” We may be able to quench our physical thirst but we must never allow our thirst for the Holy Spirit to be quenched to the point of not desiring His ongoing supply. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” The Lord promises in Jeremiah 31:25, “For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”

In his sermon, Pastor Bob emphasized that it does not cost us anything to satisfy our thirst but it cost Jesus everything. It cost Jesus His life. The offer of free water is noted in Isaiah 55:1, “Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat.” In Revelation 21:6, Jesus says, “to the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” John describes the source of this water in Revelation 22:1, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

I identify with the Psalmist in Psalm 42:1-2 who says, “As the deer pants for steams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Jesus still hears our pleas for Living Water. While being thirsty upon the cross where He died, Jesus paid the price and provided the source for water through the Holy Spirit. I like the wording of John 7:38 NASB, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” Not only do we receive this spiritual drink from the Lord, but we also have the privilege of offering it to other parched people around us.

My Reader, are you thirsty? Drink deeply of the Living Water!

SNOOPY!

I have a special email friend and fellow blogger who writes on the website “Esther’s Petition.”  In one post, she asks “What Are You Like, God?” When reading her inquiry, I knew I was about to be challenged and to learn something new about God. Without reading further, I stopped and personally prayed “What Are You Like, God?” The Lord answered Bette’s question with one word, “snoopy.” The Lord answered my question by telling to “think about Snoopy.” I want to share both of our responses to this question.

When I hear “Snoopy”, I think of the Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schultz. Although comical, I can glean some spiritual insight about who the Lord is from this little beagle. The first thing I notice it that DOG is GOD when spelled backwards. Hmmm. Maybe there is more to this dog than a cartoon for me.

Most of the time Snoopy is portrayed as living on top of his dog house rather than living inside it. Snoopy lives outside the box. This reminds me of the Holy Spirit who is with and upon and in us. Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” We see this promise fulfilled according to Acts 10:44, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.” Finally, Paul says in I Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”

A common phrase originally accredited to Frederick the Great of Prussia says that a dog is man’s best friend. Snoopy is Charlie Brown’s dog and best friend. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And in John 15:15 Jesus says to His disciples , “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” I am reminded of the old hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus

In some cartoon strips, Snoopy thinks he is another kid belonging to the gang and on occasion he even tries to be a player on the baseball team. From this perspective, I see Snoopy as both a dog and a kid reflecting Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus acknowledges Himself as both in scripture. In John 5:16-30, we find Jesus as both Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus begins by explaining how He can only do what He sees My Father doing which reveals Him as the Son of God. However, in this passage in verse 27, Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man by saying, “And he (God the Heavenly Father) has given him (Jesus) authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” Then, after Jesus was arrested and before He was crucified, He was brought before the Sanhedrin and Luke 22:70 records, “And they (the elders of the people) all said, ‘Are You the Son of God, then?; And He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Yes, I am.’”

OK. I have shared mt lighter version of how God revealed what He is like to me. Now I want to highlight what my friend learned from her encounter with the Lord. God revealed to her that He is snoopy in a curious sort of way. He does not want to be snoopy to find fault, criticize, condemn or gossip. He just wants to know how He can best soothe our hurts and strengthen our weaknesses. Bette concludes by quoting II Chronicles 16:9 KJV, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards him.”

My Reader, are you willing to ask the Lord what He is like to you? You can be assured His answer will be enlightening, and it may even be humorous.

Be a Prays-er

Prays-er” is a word used by Cindy Jacobs in the book Possessing the Gates of the Enemy. The uniqueness of this word Cindy created has given me much to think about. Most of us will say that we are pray-ers who talk to God asking for His help in situations in our own lives and in the lives of others. However, if I say I am a “prays-er” I am describing myself as a person who praises the Lord while I am praying. As a praiser, or prays-er, I choose to praise Him because of who He is, not because of what He does for me. I praise Him because He is the Creator of all things and the One who has given me life. I praise Him because He is my Savior, Lord, Healer, Deliverer, Defender, Provider, Protector, etc. He is loving, gracious, merciful and kind. God is good! He is worthy of my praise! Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.” I want to fulfill this scripture by being a prays-er.

Psalms is probably the best book of the Bible for references to praise. (My Reader, you may want to do more research on your own regarding praise scriptures as I cannot begin to be inclusive in what I share. I just want to create within you a desire to become a prays-er.) Psalm 145:3 is a good starting point for praise. “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 100:4 instructs us, “Enter gates His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 150:2 NLT says, “Praise Him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness!” David and the other writers of the Psalms were definitely prays-ers!

As a leader of the Israelites, Moses sets an example of the importance of praise when he personally declares in Exodus 15:2, “The LORD is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” Moses refers to the Israelites as well as himself when he says in Deuteronomy 10:21, “He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.” Flipping a few more pages of our Bibles, we find other references to praise.
I
Chronicles 16:9 instructs, “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.” Reading a little further in this chapter, I Chronicles 16:25 says, “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.” None of these people limited their conversations with God to requests. They praised God for who He was. They were prays-ers!

Being a pray-er, requires more of us than asking God to help us and meet the needs of those around us. Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Petitions are a part of prayer but so is praise. When we praise the Lord for who He is, we will worry less because we will become more aware of His character and nature. When we praise the Lord for who He is, our faith is built up and we have the confidence to thank Him for what He is going to do. Praise is a powerful part of prayer! Be a pray-er and a prays-er!

Since there are scriptural references to praise in both the Old and New Testaments, praise is not restricted to a particular time period. In Isaiah 43:21, the Lord declares, “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim My praise.” This is amazing! One of the reasons God created us is so that we can become prays-ers! Moving into the New Testament. we read I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Praise is pertinent for us today! God desires our praise – He wants us to be prays-ers!

Acts 16:25-26 tells us, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” The combined power of prayer and praise resulted in freedom from the bondage of prison. The same wonder-working power of God is available to us. Paul and Silas are an awesome example of prays-ers!

Praise is mentioned in the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation. Daniel 2:20 says, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.” John says in Revelation 5:11-12, “Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels and living creatures and elders encircling the throne, and their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” It is interesting that the angels also praise the Lord. One of my favorites scriptures is Philippians 2:9-11, “God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This indicates to me that I will be a prays-er not only while I am alive on earth but throughout all eternity! What a privilege!

I am a pray-er, a person who prays (talks to God), but I am also a prays-er, a person who praises (lifts God up and honors Him for who He is). I acknowledge with the prophet in Isaiah 25:1, “LORD, you are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” I personally declare Psalm 104:33, “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” and Psalm 145:1-2, I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever.”

My Reader, will you be a person who praises the Lord in addition to being a person who prays to God? I encourage you with the words of Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” Be a prays-er!