Over the next few weeks our new sermon series is called “Learning to Pray” and this week we are looking at “Praising God”. So not surprisingly I have been looking at prayer a lot this week. I came across some interesting prayers to God from children:
- One said – ‘Dear God, Would you make me a little brother I want somebody to boss around’!
- Other one said – Dear God: Please send a new baby for Mommy. The baby you sent last week cries too much.
- And another – Dear God, My Turtle died if she there with you, if so she likes lettuces
- And one said -Dear God, this is my prayer. Could you please give my brother some brains? So far he doesn’t have any.
- And my last one and possible my favourite – Dear God, Are you a Ninja? Is that why I can’t see you.
Small children, they are not afraid to say what is on their mind; to God and to most people. When I was on school placement recently one small person asked me what was in my ears, when I responded hair, her response was errr gross, I hope I don’t get old. Small children are very uninhibited when it comes to saying what is on their mind, and when it comes to praying to God as well.
But have you noticed how often that most of our prayers are “asking” prayers? While it is true that we are encouraged to ask God, there is more to prayer than just asking for things.
The Book of Psalms contains 150 prayers and songs, most attributed to King David. There are songs of praise and thanksgiving, singing from the heart to a God whose abundance and mercy have been experienced as life-giving blessings.
There are also psalms of penitence and lament, psalms of abandonment and betrayal, and even psalms that express anger and righteous indignation.
The range of the psalms is as wide as the range of human emotion, which perhaps accounts for the fact that these psalms have been valued as a living prayer book for over 2,500 years. They are lively in their expressions of joy, consoling in times of despair.
But the majority of these prayers and hymns are songs of praise.
- The first words of the last psalm, Psalm 150, is “Praise the Lord.”
- The first words of Psalm 149 are “Praise the Lord.”
- The first words of Psalm 148 are “Praise the Lord.”
- The first words of Psalm 147 are “Praise the Lord.”
- The first words of Psalm 146 are “Praise the Lord.”
Well – you get the point. We don’t spend enough time praising God – praising God is not like thanking God. When you thank God, it is a prayer of thanking God for the something he has done.
Giving praise to God is more of an adoration for what makes God who He is. And adoration is respect, reverence, strong admiration or devotion in this case to God. Thanking God can be self-centred – “Thank you, God, for what you did for ME.” Praising God is more God-cantered – “Praise you, Lord God, for what you are.” And I think that praising God is something many of us forget to do.
It is sad, but true. People have to be reminded to show their appreciation. Most parents always say to their children say thank you. But when those children become adults most seem to forget about praising anyone.
Imagine a job where your work isn’t appreciated, your effort goes unnoticed, and you could be replaced in an instant. Not exactly a place you’d want to stay for very long, is it? So why does God want to stay close to us, in short because he loves us.
When was the last time you thought about showing your appreciation to God for who He is? When you look at the Praise Psalms in the Old Testament, every one of them starts off with a Call to Praise. We have to be reminded to show our appreciation to God. All of these psalms start with the same words – “Praise the Lord.” In fact, they all end with the same words – “Praise the Lord.” If you are looking for a praise psalm in the Bible, they are easy to find. Just look for that opening and closing words “Praise the Lord”.
This is something we have to be reminded to do, because for most of us praising God does not come naturally. We have become so self-centred in our lives – and even in our worship. Have you noticed that worship has become self-centred instead of God-centred? Try praying just praise to God and I bet you will find very quickly that you fall into thanking God for what he has done for you, not thanking him for who he is and what he is. We judge the quality of worship by how it blessed us or what we got out of it, or how it failed to bless US, and I have heard people say, and I have said it myself I got nothing out of that today.
We don’t think about whether or not God was blessed by our worship. What did we give to God. The best worship music old or modern is the type that glorifies God. If it happens to entertains US as well that’s a win win. Even our prayers focus on asking for things WE need, and they become self-centred. Praising God keeps our worship and our lives focused on God rather than on self-centred subjects.
Every one of the Praise Psalms will include a collection of reasons as to why we should praise God. In the Psalm we read 146 we are given a brief and poetic set of reasons as to why we should praise God.
First, we should praise him because God is someone we can trust. He will not fail us. Psalm 146 says, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” Do we trust God or do we trust in other things, like money. But money can’t save us. Just ask someone who has become unemployed and who finds the money disappearing from savings. We like to trust technology. All the gadgets we have are nice, but they are not dependable. Just ask someone whose computer has crashed. We like to trust power and military might. But remember throughout history great military powers have fallen to lesser people groups, the British were kicked out of America, the Americans lost in Vietnam, the Russians lost in Afghanistan, and so the story will go on.
What will you put your trust in? Ultimately, it is God alone we should trust. Why? Because He alone is eternal. Everything else will someday disappear. But God existed before creation and He will always exist. If we begin to develop an attitude of praising God, then we will find that we put our trust in God, not in things that will fail us.
Second, we should praise God because He gives us hope. Psalm 146 says, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.” God has a record of coming through, of delivering.
There is reference here to Jacob – a reminder of the history of God and his people in the Old Testament. We know what God did for Jacob – and we know what God has done for his people through the centuries. In other words, God has a track record in which you can find hope.
The psalmist talks about God creating the heaven, the earth, the sea and everything in them. You can look around at the glories of the universe.
Did you know that Voyager 1 is the first spacecraft to reach interstellar space. It was launched (along with Voyager 2) in 1977 to explore the outer planets in our solar system. However, it has remained operational long past expectations and continues to send information about its journeys back to Earth. The spacecraft officially entered interstellar space in August 2012, almost 35 years after its voyage began. (The discovery wasn’t made official until 2013, however, when scientists had time to review the data sent back from Voyager 1). Voyager 1 was actually the second of the twin spacecraft to launch, but it was the first to race by Jupiter and Saturn. The images it sent back have been used in schoolbooks and newspaper for a generation. Also on board was a special record, carrying voices and music from Earth out into the cosmos. Now I don’t know what we will learn from this, and I have to admit that I didn’t really care. What we do learn will probably be beyond my understanding anyway. But I think it is really awesome that in my lifetime we are sending a space ships out into interstellar space, something God made that is so far away that most telescopes can’t see much of anything. God has made an awesome universe. Our house in Spain is in a very low light pollution area, in other words in the middle of nowhere, and I just love on a clear night to sit out by the pool and look up at the night sky and see all thousands of star and just look in wonder at what God has made, I can see some of that wonderful universe and because I know about God’s track record in creating and maintaining the universe, I have hope.
People put their hope in things that have no track record. Or at best, a poor track record.
Over the last few weeks it has come to our news headlines that young people are putting their trust in knives and some in guns, now I know that they are on the inside just frightened I am sure that very few if any want to use the knife but that is where there trust and hope is. Where do you find your sense of hope? If we begin to develop an attitude of praising God, then we will find that we put your hope in God, not in things that will fail us.
And we should praise him because God loves us. In our reading from psalm 146 we read, “God upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.”
How many times do we praised our favourite band or singer, or team and they don’t even know we exist?
Thinking again about interstellar space – what can we learn from something like that? One thing that teaches me is that God created an enormous universe. And God made all of that and he knows all there is to know about this huge universe. It amazes me that God – who made this universe and sustains this creation – pays attention to us at all. In the grand scope of the universe, we are so insignificant. And yet, in the heart of the creator, we are loved.
Do we pray to our God do we use the pray ministry, for many of us the answer is no, pray ministry is the must under used resource in this church, but every two weeks there is a team of people ready and willing to pray with anyone in confidence and ready and willing to praise God with you and for you, God loves us and wants a relationship with us. For that reason alone, we should have the attitude of praise for God.
Our reading tells us that we should praise the Lord for:
- The Greatness Of His Power – He is the God of creation! He is the God that said, “Let there be…” AND THERE WAS….
- The Greatness of His Mercy- He is the God who looks beyond our faults and still woke us up this morning.
- The Greatness Of His Love- He Loves me and you in spite of ourselves
- The Greatness Of His Deliverance: I am sure we have all seen a film or tv show that has someone falling into quicksand, they try to get out, but the harder he try, the deeper they sink. We have I am sure all felt the horrible feelings of the person’s despair. As they sink to the waist, they try to reach for a tree or a root or something, but they’re too far. They try everything they know, but suddenly they are up to their chin, and soon they can’t breathe and they die, a very horrible death. All of us who know the Lord Jesus, should praise Him because we have all found ourselves in the quicksand of sin. He reached down with His loving hands and saved us. HE IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE.
- The Greatness Of His Sacrifice for us for each one of us!
Pete Greg said – “God is God, he is Holy He is our Father who loves us, and John Dawson said “when Christians pray they are claiming into the lap of their heavenly father.
We should give time to God asking for nothing back but telling God how much we love him. That’s what we should learn to day that He’s worthy because He Sent His Son, to sacrifice His life for you and me. He’s worthy! He’s worthy! We have surly got to Praise Him.
Lets Pray: Lord God we Praise you for your love for us, we praise you that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we know what love looks like. We Praise you Lord God that you are the same yesterday and today and forever, and that You are our solid Rock, our Fortress, our Rescuer, our Shield, our salvation’s strength, and our place of safety. Lord we Praise you for being the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. Who does not grow faint or weary; we praise you that your ways are higher than our ways, and your thoughts higher than our thoughts . We Praise you because you are perfect. We Praise you Lord, for you are the God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving our sins and wickedness. Lord God we Praise you that with you nothing is impossible. Lord GOD, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You”. Lord God we praise and worship you for your love for us. Amen