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The Prayer of Praise

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD! Psalm 150:6

Dear Friends in Christ,


The way that we pray has a significant impact on our relationship with God. First, there is the temptation to leave prayers only for official prayer moments, and then leaving most of the praying up to the professionals. The more we pray, however, the closer we walk with God. And that is truly the purpose of prayer: to be in closer relationship with God.


Sometimes we pray prayers of gratitude that ‘such-and-such has happened.’ Gratitude is good indeed, but this prayer is in passive voice, similar to the language that politicians use: “mistakes were made.” Who made them? Hard to say… In our prayers: where did this good thing come from? To whom are we thankful? Our prayers of thanksgiving are more powerful when we are clear about what exactly God has done in our lives, rather than simply being happy for what we have. This kind of thanksgiving points us toward the giver of good gifts, the one who loves us and wants to bless us.


Even further, beyond vague gratitude and even thanksgiving, there is the prayer of praise. At this week’s diocesan clergy conference, Bishop Wright began with reflections on praise: on praising God. We often mistake praise for thanksgiving in our prayers. We praise God for what God has done for us. But this is really thanksgiving. Sometimes, this can leave us with more focus on the good thing that we have more than on the one who gave us this good thing.


Praise gives expression to the greatness of God. We praise God not for what we’ve gotten out of the deal, but merely for who God is. God does not need our praise. The Prayer Book (page 857) teaches: “We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God's Being draws praise from us.” We praise God for being loving, for being generous, for being powerful, for being merciful, for being forgiving, for being just, for being our creator and the source of all truth. We praise God for his beauty, for his majesty, for his transcendence and mystery, his intimacy and close and personal care for us. We praise Jesus for his humility, for his wisdom, his endurance and perseverance. We praise God the Holy Spirit for his mysterious action in the world, for his empowering grace to draw us closer to God and send us out in strength.


For what do you praise God? What is it about God that draws praise and delight from you? When we praise God, joy and peace soon follow. Praise the Lord!


Yours in Christ,


-Tom

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