Thursday, June 17, 2021

Praise or Prayer? Yes

Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” -Matt. 6:9


Praise to our awesome God is better “caught than taught.” When we live in praise, we live in the presence of God. And of course, when we live in praise, we live in prayer. Or is it the other way around? Truth is, it’s not either-or. Both beautifully go together when we’re focusing on God.


When we praise God without an attitude of prayer, it’s a pretty insulated form of praise. It’s like saying good morning to someone you’re angry with about something. You’re getting the good morning out of the way by saying it from your head, not your heart. It feels logical and sterile. 


When we pray to God without a spirit of praise, it’s selfish and caustic. It’s like asking Santa Claus for things. It is usually us coming to God with a grocery list of things we want. We’re not so much asking Him from a spirit of submission, we are telling Him what we want and oh, by the way, we want it now.


Being a parent or grandparent trumps any book on parenting. Someone said, “Experience plants deeper and surer than words.”


Many times we take our kids or grandkids to an event only to have to deal with their reluctance. “I don’t want to go,” they might say. “Muppet Babies comes on at 3:00 and I’ll miss it if we go out.” We went out anyway, the kids got into it and Muppet Babies was forgotten.


Praising God works out the same way. When we get engulfed in worshipping God, our circumstances don’t rule the moment. Our circumstances, SO important at the time, becomes a faint memory. When the majesty and glory of God become the centerpiece of our lives, the other “important” things fall into their lower place. 


Like someone said, “We all have ‘re-sources’ and ‘the-sources’.” Prayer and praise are the way we keep our awesome God in His worthy place in our hearts as THE source of contentment and peace in our lives. Then, we’re able to give healthy time to the other important resources in our lives: family, friends, finances, future, etc..


When what should be “re-sources” become “the-sources”, we create a problem. If I leave out everyday praise to God and rarely pray to Him, then these other things can become THE priority.  Suddenly, (though the process is typically gradual) finances, for instance,  can become the center of me, my marriage and my life. THE source of purpose and significance for me is based upon how much money I have. There is certainly nothing wrong with money. But when it becomes my source of peace and contentment, I’m pretty much sunk. Like someone said, “How much money is enough? A little bit more.”  Money is never a fair source of peace. Neither is anything other than God.


But God is and always will be The True Source.  And prayer and praise are the main “tools” that our loving Father has given to us to keep the connection pure and true. Like the loving mom and dad who gave their college bound seventeen-year-old her cell phone so she will “stay in touch,” our loving God gives us prayer and praise to keep the link fresh and strong between Him and His beloved children. 


May we all keep that “cell phone” charged and available in our walk with God. May we stay established in the intimacy of our relationship with our loving Lord as we praise His name and remain in prayer. 


It’s all provided by Him for one reason: He loves us. May we walk in His love every minute of every hour of every day, Muppet Babies or not!


By Eric Joseph Staples