I posted a while back about the Psalms devotional book that my writers' group put together, but I failed to give you a sample. So while the electricity is cooperating in the midst of this icy day of rolling power black outs, I thought I'd share one of mine.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 (ESV)
“Father God, forgive me of my sins, protect my family and I throughout the day and night, give us good health, . . . .” The same prayer night after night. The same order, the same basic requests, and the same repetitive words: “me” and “I.”
Delights that just hours earlier I had sworn not to forget went unpraised because I allowed my mind to be consumed with my needs and my desires. I forgot to thank God for the smiles, laughter, and joy he had given me. I neglected to give God the praise that he is due as God, Creator, Lord of lords, and Holy of holies.
Frustrated that my prayers failed to convey my heartfelt praise, I decided to start listing my praises each day before I lifted up my prayers. To help remind me, I use a spiral notebook and write on the top of each page, “Father, I praise You for . . .”; toward the bottom of the page, I write, “Father, I lift up to You . . . .”
This little tool of keeping a praise/prayer journal not only redirected my me-centered prayers, helping me to put the focus back on God by praising him from the start, but also made me on the lookout for God’s handiwork throughout the day. Before I started keeping a daily praise list, a sunset that took my breath away might have lasted only a moment. Now I know I want to record it later in my journal, so I pay more attention to it in the moment. Similarly, an answered prayer does not slip through the cracks of my memory as easily because I have written prayer requests down and can look back through them to note when they are answered.
It took a little work to put into practice Psalm 100:4’s wisdom and to enter his gates with thanksgiving. But now, instead of waiting to thank God until I have spelled out all of my needs and my desires, I look forward to listing my praises first and seeing how they often far outnumber my requests.
Father God, thank You for all the big and little ways that You touch my heart throughout the day. You alone are worthy of all my praise.
What one step could you take to make praising God an integral part of your prayer time? (A few suggestions include memorizing Psalm 100:4, listening to praise music, keeping a list of praises, or beginning your prayers with praise rather than petitions.)