[Exclusive] Building a House of Prayer, Praise Prayer

Building a House of Prayer

Eighteen Prayer Models for Approaching God’s Throne

Author | Dr. Joshua Young-Gi Hong

<Praise Prayer>

“A thanksgiving prayer drives out gruesome worries.”—Daily Bread

Praise Prayer is devoting a worship service of prayer with praise. A prayer is more than an earnest request to God; it includes the element of praise to God by its very nature. The subject of our prayer, God, deserves all our praise. A Praise Prayer upgrades our level of prayer.

The Holy Place of Prayer

We must deeply appreciate the importance of praise in giving a Praise Prayer. Praise is a barometer of our spirituality. Praise is an expression of our thanks, touched heart, and God’s grace. Thus, giving a life of praise is a sign that our spirituality is alive. The Psalms are filled with Praise Prayers. The final verse in the Book of Psalms makes this point clear, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD” (Psalm 150:6). This verse shows us that worship and praise are the duty of all people. The word worship (or bowing to God) implies our fear for God and the act of expressing our reverence, admiration, and devotion to Him.

One of the most important things in the life of the Early-Church Christians was praise (extolment). The first thing that the disciples began to do in Jerusalem right after Jesus ascended into heaven was to pray. Luke says this is a Praise Prayer: “While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God” (Luke 24:51-53).

When the disciples gathered together in Jerusalem and prayed, the nature of the prayer was a Praise Prayer. The thanksgiving and praise to the resurrected Jesus and His work of salvation came out of their heart naturally. It is written in Acts 2:46-47: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

Why does God want to be praised by us? It is because God is a being with intellect, feeling , and will.

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God’s Tears

When I was a sophomore in college, I met a lay missionary from the United States, named Gilesby. He had been an alcoholic when he met Jesus. He recovered from alcoholism since then and came to South Korea to preach on Christ’s love as a lay missionary. Through his preaching and living, I realized God’s deep love for us. I came to understand the truth, “How precious, beautiful, and unique I am.” One day, I was so moved by this truth that I praised God continually in a bus on the way home, “Lord, thank you for creating me so wonderfully.”

The Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4;16). This has two significances. The first is that God loves us. The Cross of Jesus is the salvific event that shows our complete depravity and God’s infinite love for us. The second point is that God wants to be loved as well, because God also has personality, He wants to be loved and praised by humans, whom He created in His image. Jesus taught the disciples to pray to God first in the Lord’s Prayer, “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9).

Richard Foster expressed the heart of God, who is touched by our praise and delights in our praise, as “God’s tears” (Prayer, Hodder & Stroughton, Ltd, 1992, p. 120). God exists transcendently and has feelings and emotions. He is touched by our love.

I used to have a dog named “John” when I was in middle school. John wagged his tail and greeted me when I came home from school. The reason I liked John was that he liked me and followed me everywhere. I was deeply attached to John. So, when John died, I grieved for several months.

We are glad when a dog follows us. Then, can you imagine how much God would be delighted if we, who are created in His image, would recognize the Lord personally and worship Him? God does not overlook even a small confession from our lips. He is delighted when we confess earnestly, “I praise the Lord. I love the Lord,”

Receiving salvation changes the purpose of our life. The purpose of God’s salvation is not to give us joy and pleasure but to reveal His glory (proclamation of God’s greatness: Psalm 9:14; 71:15; 73:28; 107:22; 119:13). Isaiah 43:21 says, “The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Praise Prayer is a spiritual blessing that achieves the purpose of life.

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Double-Edged Sword of a Praise Prayer: Offering Thanks and Exaltation

Praising God is a duty for all Christians. Jean Getz (Praying for One Another, Victor Books, 1982) stresses that praising God should not be left out whenever Christians gather to pray and worship. Richard Foster (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Holder & Sloughton, 1992) says that there are two aspects in praise: thanksgiving, and exaltation. Thanksgiving is to glorify God for what He has done for us. This is our response to God’s work. Praising is to glorify God for who He is by His nature. This is our response to God’s self-revelation. Praising focuses on God’s personality and character. Praise Prayer must encompass thanksgiving, for thanksgiving glorifies God.

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23). Thus, look for a topic for which to thank God whenever you pray. Remember each grace of God given to you in the past and thank Him. Thank God for who you are right now. The following lyrics are found in the hymn “Count Your Blessings,” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., and E.O. Excell:

  • When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
  • When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
  • Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
  • And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
  • Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
  • Count your blessings, See what God hath done;
  • Count your many blessings, Name them one by one;
  • Count your many blessings, See what God hath done.

A thanksgiving prayer expresses our thanks to God, and it also becomes an encouragement to understand our lives on the basis of God’s goodness. Louis Flau says the first step away from God is to cut off God from our mind. Then, the next is not to thank His character and personality or what He has done for us. Thanksgiving prayer is a resource to pioneer our life to be creative and positive. God commands us in the Bible, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The Psalms are filled with thanksgiving words: “That my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:12). If we do not thank God, then it is a sign that we are losing our spiritual vitality. When we find a topic for thanksgiving and start to thank God, our spirit will be renewed in Him.

In a Praise Prayer, exaltation must be included. Jesus should not be left out in the praise. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15). “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20). Jesus is the object of our praise. If there were no salvation in Jesus’ ministry, all of us would have been subject to severe penalties of eternal abandonment.

A time for a prayer: “Lord, thank you for creating me. Thank you for saving me. Lord, you are only one who deserves my praise. Please hold me by the Holy Spirit so that I can live a life of praising you.”

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The Depth of Our Praise Depends on How Much We Know God

The most important methodology for a Praise Prayer is to focus on God himself. It is to meditate on God’s personality and character. If we know who God really is, we cannot help but praise Him. An admiration flows out from our heart. We can praise as much as we know Him. The Bible is filled with the words of God’s self-revelation. We have to ask what God is like as we read the Bible. Then, we have to meditate on God and praise Him. We have to praise God’s love (Psalm 107:8), God’s protection (Psalm 59:16-17), God’s help (Psalm 68:19), God’s permanency (Hebrews 13:8), God’s sincerity (Psalm 71:22), and God’s holiness (Revelation 4:8). Thus, it is most effective to hold onto Bible verses on God’s power and character to meditate on God and praise God in order to offer the Praise Prayer well.

For example, we can meditate and praise God’s almightiness and greatness. Meditate on Isaiah 40:26: “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

The great God created this universe and the creatures in it in the most wonderful way. The examples are countless, but let’s think about the distance between the earth and the sun. If the earth is too close to the sun, the creatures in earth cannot survive the heat; but if it is too far away from the sun, all the creatures will be freeze to death. However, because the earth is located at a perfect distance from the sun, we can survive. It is not a simple coincidence that the water in the ocean does not flood the land and humans do not fall from the ground even if the earth is rotating on a slightly skewed axis.

It just does not seem to be real how vast the universe is even if the astronomers have tried to guess it. In 1977, the United States sent out Voyager 1 to Saturn, and the satellite flew at a speed of about 745,645 miles a day. And still it took three years and two months to get to Saturn. It is a distance that, if we were to take an airplane flying at the speed of about 400 miles an hour, it would take 200 years to arrive at Saturn. Then, we can see how far Saturn is from Earth.

If we were to take an airplane all day and all the time and try to visit each planet in our solar system—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto—it would take several thousand years. This seemingly endless Solar System is only a speck in the universe. There are 100 billion stars like our sun in our galaxy, and there are more than several trillion galaxies in the universe by the best estimation of modern science.

It is just impossible to comprehend or even imagine how vast the universe is. Thus, Isaiah 40:15 says: “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.” How great and almighty is our God to say such things! No matter how much we praise the greatness of our God, we cannot praise Him enough.

We can also praise God’s omniscience and ubiquity or omnipresence. David extols them both in Psalm 139:1-12: “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

God is not only great and almighty but also scrupulous and omniscient. “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me” (Psalm 139:1). God has seen everything about us from the moment we were born till now. He knows whether we are standing or sitting and is watching every move we make.

God knows what we think even from far away. We do not know how we think and how our mind progresses through our brain synapses. However, God knows how our thought got into our mind and where it is hidden and how it is expressed through our behavior. Even if we do not remember what we thought about while we were sleeping and what we dreamt, God knows everything. The Lord discerns “my going out and my lying down;” He is “familiar with all my ways.” From the moment we wake up in the morning, He is watching over us all day, where we go, whom we meet, what we do till we lie down on our bed. Even if we fall asleep, God does not slumber nor sleep, but watches our every move. In this verse, discern means sifting. In other words, after harvesting, as the grains are sifted, all wholesome grains are gathered together and chafed and the blasted ears of wheat are sifted separately. Likewise, God watches over our every behavior as He is sifting through the entire grain to filter out chaff or stones.

There is nothing that God cannot comprehend that comes out from our lips and tongues. Whether we speak unintentionally or intentionally, God listens to everything we say. It was stated in a survey: A man speaks about 25,000 words a day while a woman speaks about 30,000 words a day. One-fifth of our life is spent speaking.

Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36). Thus, what our closest people know about us cannot be compared to what God knows about us. The almighty God’s knowledge about us is so scrupulous, accurate, and amazing that David could not help but feel his limitation in front of God. Thus, he could not help but worship God and confesses in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” In Matthew 10:29-30, the Lord Jesus says, “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered by God.” God knows how many hairs fall from our head and how many were regenerated. God can number every hair on the head of six billion people at once. Isn’t it amazing? God knows everything accurately and in full detail. If we realize how amazing God’s knowledge is, how can we not give praise to His power?

Additionally, God is ubiquitous or omnipresent. In other words, He is present everywhere at the same time. He does not leave you alone. God is there for us. “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:9-10). Imagine how fast the speed of light is when it can cut across the darkness and fly over space to light the world in an instant. However, even if we try to escape from God by flying at the speed of light, God is there and we cannot hide from Him. Then, we might think that we can hide in the darkness. However, this is also impossible. Since God himself is the light, darkness has no meaning where God is present. The sunlight shines to show our way during the day; but the sunlight is subject to time and place constraints. When night comes or we go into a cave, the sun cannot shed light to show our way. However, God created the sun and all things and creatures in the universe. Because He is the Spirit and Light, the universe is filled with Him. Thus, He watches over and knows the whereabouts and every behavior of each six billion people.

Although we try to escape from God’s eyes, we cannot be hidden from His sight, go against His dispensation, or escape from His power. So, Jeremiah 23:24 says, “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.”

Also, it’s written in Hebrews 4:13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” There is nothing that can be hidden from this ubiquitous God. Because of this power of God, He can be with and in us when we pray.

Thus, let’s pray: “Lord, I praise you as the God of Immanuel indeed. Please do not leave me but be with me. I praise the almighty power of God. Please bless me.”

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Praise with a Flame of Hope

Praise Prayer is a prayer of hope. When we understand God’s power and character, we will have the conviction that everything that happens in our life is in the hands of God. Thus, we can praise Him with hope amidst the storm. Praise gives us the power to overcome hardships because it makes us rely on God completely.

Praising while in hardship is the highest level of prayer. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are beaten and confined in a prison with their feet chained. At night, they give a Praise Prayer to God. The Greek verb and participle to describe their behavior indicate that their praise was a prayer: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). They prayed to God with hymns to God. Because of their prayer and praise, an earthquake took place, and they were unchained. Moreover, the gate of the prison opened by itself. Because of this miraculous incident, the prison guard received salvation, and his family became essential Christian members of the church at Philippi. This story teaches us a lesson that we have to put our focus on God even during hardships. God performs a miracle when we praise the good God and give worship with thanksgiving rather than when we pray only for our needs.

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Praise with New Songs

The Bible advises us to praise God with a new song—“Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints” (Psalm 149:1). “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:3). This means that we have to praise God with a new attitude and new spirit. The fact that you gave good praise yesterday does not mean you can praise God wonderfully again today.

At this moment, we have to make a resolution in our heart to renew our faith. We have to praise with new thanksgiving and new commitment. There may be times when our Praise Prayer does not come out easily. In that case, I sing a hymn featuring “Hallelujah!” repeatedly or sing Christian songs that praise God. Sometimes, I listen to Christian recordings. Then, my heart is put in a gear to start praising God with joy. A wholesome praise can be given only by a new heart. A renewed spirit is a gift from God. Thus, we have to ask God to give us a renewed spirit so that we can praise Him dearly.

Richard Baxter said, “Put all your effort on praise, which is the work of angels.” When we leave this world, we will be with God eternally. The most important thing at that time will be to worship and praise Him forever. We must practice praising God while we are on this earth. If we do not praise while we pray, it indicates that we lack an understanding of God’s personality and character. Remember: You will praise God as much as you know Him.

Checkpoint of Prayer

It is more effective to give thanks to God at the same time we offer a Praise Prayer. Additionally, it is a good idea to think of a specific praise topic along with praising the Lord. For example, praise God’s goodness and guidance. The more specific our praise is, the more abundant blessing will overflow from our prayer.

Sweet Rain of Grace

When we offer a Praise Prayer, our spirit is filled with joy. Moreover, it helps us see a different perspective so that our hardships seem positive. A Praise Prayer allows us the power to overcome hardships and sufferings, and it destroys Satan’s tricks. Most importantly, it deepens our knowledge of God for it is centered on God.

Praying Time

A Praise Prayer can be given without time and space constraints. Anywhere, any time, whether we are at home, walking, or working, we can praise God from our heart.

It is a strategic method to offer a Praise Prayer while meditating on a Psalm. In this case, we can offer a Praise Prayer in twenty minutes. First and foremost, we have to set our focus so that our life will praise God.

Closed Prayer Room

  • A Praise Prayer is devoting a worship service of prayer with praise and thanksgiving to God.
  • Examples of Praise Prayer
    >> I praise the Lord’s ubiquity. Thank you for being with me anywhere I go.
    >> Lord, I thank you for my children given as your gift.
  • My Praise Prayer:
  • The Order of a Praise Prayer
    >> Praise (Hymn or Chorus)
    >> Confession of a Thanksgiving
    >> Reading a prepared Praise Prayer
    >> Carrying out the Praise Prayer
  • Self-illumination
    >> Am I giving thanks to God while I praise Him?
    >> Have I praised God with a specific topic?
    >> Have I been praising God while in temptation, hardships, or sufferings?
    >> Have I experienced God’s miracle through my praise?

One Last Word on Praise Prayer

Praising is glorifying God for who He is by His nature.

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