What do you pray about most? Your own struggles? Your family and friends? Situations in life? Whatever it is that you pray about most, I think we can all agree on one thing. We pray for our requests more than anything else. Those requests can be varied among topics, people, and even level of seriousness, but one thing ties them together–they are all requests. We pray that the Lord will provide, heal, help, change, strengthen, encourage, or affect a situation in some other way. And this is biblical; Philippians 4:6 says that we should make our requests known to God through prayer.
But what if requests is all we ever talk about with God? Is that all prayer is–coming to Him with our problems and our friends’ problems and asking for help? I don’t think so.
This morning as I was praying, I had a realization. Sometimes, prayer gets me down a little. Especially when I’ve been praying for something for a long time and have yet to see anything happen. Every day I approach the Lord and bring my requests to Him, but how often do I see immediate answers to those requests? Not often. God is a patient God, and He’s trying to train me to also be patient. Sometimes, this can put a strain on my prayer life.
However, I had a realization, as I said before. Prayer is about more than just me bringing requests to God and waiting for answers. This does get burdensome at times. But God doesn’t want our time with Him to be depressing. That’s why there is another aspect to prayer that we need to learn to practice: praise.
God has done and is doing so much in our lives that is praiseworthy. But how often do we see an answer to prayer or receive an encouraging word and simply drop that request off our prayer list? Do we ever stop and take time to thank God for that answer and praise Him for His faithfulness? I know that I struggle to be faithful in this area.
Incorporating praise into our prayer life is important, though. It lightens the burden of our requests and helps us be more patient as we wait for the Lord to act. That’s what I realized this morning. When I am feeling discouraged as I’m praying, I need to start praising! God desires me to praise Him, not only because He deserves it but also because it encourages me and reminds me of His faithfulness.
Psalm 100 is an excellent recipe for incorporating praise into your prayer life. Check it out:
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
The psalmist says that we are to come before God with joy, singing and gladness. How often do you experience overwhelming joy in your prayer time? I want more of that!
No matter what is going on in our lives, God deserves praise. We always have something for which to praise Him, even in the hardest of times. And dwelling on His faithfulness and His character is inclined to put us in a better mental state than focusing on problems. I was encouraged this morning to begin incorporating more praise into my prayer life. I challenge you to do the same.
If you can’t think of anything to praise God for right now, look at verse 3 of Psalm 100: God made you and you are His; you are one of His people. Praise Him for that.