How is your prayer life? Non-existent? Unproductive? Boring? At the beginning of my walk with God, I really questioned prayer. Why do we need to pray if God is going to do what He wants anyway? How can reading a list of wants to God every day get Him to do what we want? It seemed so ritualistic and impersonal.
So, in the beginning, I would try and keep a prayer journal and keep a list of all the people that needed prayer and a list of what I needed. I would date each prayer request (to record how quickly God worked) and then I would be good for a week or so, but then I would forget or I would fall asleep in the middle of the list. Or, more honestly, it would get so boring asking for the same things over and over and over again that I would just quit. Then the guilt would set in and I would muster new life to start it all over again, hoping that this would finally be the time that I could stick to it. This cycle caused so much guilt and so much failure.
Everything changed the day I was invited to a “Moms In Prayer” group. The group was held at the Boys and Girls Club in Madison and the room was filled with all different women of different nationalities, cultures and ages. It was beautiful. Moms In Prayer is a national organization that encourages groups of mothers to gather and pray over their children and their children’s school. (If you have school-aged children, I HIGHLY recommend starting or finding a group). Anyway, they TAUGHT me how to pray and quite frankly, learning how to pray this way has changed my life!
They taught us to start our prayer time with PRAISING God. Honestly, this did not come to me easily and I really didn’t understand it at first. This was so opposite from my prayer time of listing my wants and needs. Praising God does not include any prayer requests. It’s simply praising Him for who He is. Still confusing right? Let me take it one step further…praising God in your prayer time is opening your eyes to how BIG God is, which makes our problems and circumstances look small. Now don't get me wrong, I do think it's important to ask God for things (James, Jesus' brother tells us to!), but praising God first in our prayer time is Soooo important!
If you’ve never really praised God before, I want to share some ways in which you can start incorporating praise into your prayer time. You will go deeper with the Lord in so many ways.
First, I would start out by reading Psalms 138, 139, 145, 156, 147, 148, and 150. As you read these Psalms, recognize all of His attributes and all of who He is and praise Him for those things!
Second, open your Bible to Isaiah 6:1-4, Ezekiel 1:25-28 and Revelation 4:2-6. These three passages describe God sitting on His throne in heaven. I love to visualize God in heaven when I ‘m praising Him. It really helps to read these passages about Him because it reminds us that He is not a little old grandpa that is incapable. We are reminded that He is not worldly, but He is outside of this world! Praise Him for how big He is!
Third, do the ABC’s of praise. What I mean by this is go through each letter of the alphabet and come up with words that describe God. (A=amazing, awesome, able B=beautiful, big C=caring, consistent). Do this for the whole alphabet and be reminded of how great God is!
Fourth, do a google search of the “attributes of God.” Praise God for all of His attributes.
When we praise God for who He is, we are not doing it to build God up or let God know who He is. We praise God to remind ourselves of who God is!!! So many times our troubles and circumstances seem impossible, but when we start praising God and reminding ourselves of how big, how powerful, how mighty, and how in control God is, we are filled with hope and love!
When God asked us to start a homeless shelter in 2012, we didn’t have a thing. We didn’t have any money, knowledge, land or experience in starting a shelter. BUT, we did have God! We prayed EVERY week for five and a half years as a group for God to bring this thing to reality. You may be surprised to know that we rarely brought a “prayer list” to our prayer meetings. We spent about 80 percent of our prayer time praising and thanking God. The fact is, God knows what we need before we need it. God brought us exactly what we needed when we needed it without us even having to ask. We just needed to continue to remind ourselves that we serve a big God and that HE could be the one to build the shelter. AND HE DID!!!