The last several weeks we have discussed some of the many aspects of prayer.
o We discussed the definition of prayer - what it is.
o I looked at 7 benefits of prayer mentioned in the Bible.
o We investigated 18 biblical reasons why we should pray.
I want to begin our discussion today by looking at the spiritual armor we are instructed to put on.
WHERE DO WE FIND A LIST OF THE CHRISTIAN'S ARMOR?
It is found in Ephesians 6:13-18
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PIECES OF ARMOR WE ARE INSTRUCTED TO WEAR?
o Girdle or Belt of Truth - around our waist
WHY DO WE NEED THESE PIECES OF ARMOR?
o Breastplate of Righteousness
o Feet that are fitted and prepared
with the Gospel of Peace
o Shield of Faith - to quench the fiery arrows of the devil
o Helmet of Salvation
o Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God
Ephesians 6:11 instructs us that we need the armor to combat the wiles - the trickery - of the devil. Verse 13 adds that we need the armor to be able to continue standing when the day of evil adversity comes your way. We should never think that we can skate through life without having Satan knock at our door trying to peddle his deceptive concoctions? Not a chance.
We talk about Jesus being "no respecter of persons." The devil is also no respecter of persons. He hates everyone. He is out to deceive and steal life from each one of us. This makes the armor of God very important, if we expect to be successful against this wily foe.
IS IT SAFE TO USE ONE OR TWO OF THE PIECES OF ARMOR WHEN WE HAVE CONFLICT WITH THE DEVIL AND HIS DEMONS? No!!
Once again, Ephesians 6:11 tells us to "put on the whole (NIV = full) armor of God, in order to fight against the wiles of the devil." And again, verse 13 instructs us to "take up the whole armor of God." We need all of the pieces of armor.
In our continuing series on the subjects of PRAYER, let's look at verse 18.
Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
The pieces of armor probably could be classified into defensive and offensive pieces of armor. Like the Word of God, which is called the Sword of the Spirit, prayer is one of the offensive weapons, or pieces of armor. We cannot hope to succeed in our battle with Satan, if we omit prayer from our arsenal. Prayer is absolutely essential in the life of any believer, regardless of who you are. Jesus Himself gave us an example of how important prayer was to Him.
Look at this verse 18 once again. This time notice the instruction to "pray…..with all kinds of prayers and requests." This implies that there are different kinds of prayers. And, indeed, prayer does take on many forms.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT FORMS THAT PRAYER TAKES?
There are many ways to remember the forms of prayer. Two of them use an acronym to help us. Both of them were mentioned by our pastor last week.
One uses the acronym, "P-R-A-Y"
Another acronym used is "A-C-T-S".
Any of these are good, but I think there are more than 4 forms of prayer.
1. Confession …of our sinfulness and unworthiness
2. Petitions …for the supply of our needs.
3. Intercession …bearing the burdens of others
4. Thanksgiving …for mercies and favors received
5. Adoration & Praise …in worship
6. Conversation …for fellowship with God
Rarely does one have a time of prayer where only one of these forms is present and active. There may be those times of emergency where a person might say, "Jesus help me!" and that's all you have time for. In that instant, you utter a petition or request. But usually many of the forms of prayer are active nearly simultaneously.
Even the model prayer, called the Lord's Prayer, involves at least four of these six forms, all within one continuous prayer.
"Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name".....is a form of adoration and praise.
"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".....is a form of b.
"Give us this day our daily bread" is a petition for God to supply our physical needs.
"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" is a prayer of confession...admitting that we have erred.
There are some forms which we probably use more than others. For instance, "Petitions", where we are asking God for something, and "Thanksgiving", for the things He has done for us.
Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
This verse seems to indicate that petitioning and thanksgiving maybe should always go together. Even though many of the forms are present in any session of prayer, that doesn't keep us from understanding each of them individually. So, today I want to take some time to look at each of these various forms, and their roles in the life of a believer.
WHAT DOES THE WORD "CONFESS" MEANS?
The English language is constantly changing. When a new editions of the dictionary comes out, some words are added - other are deleted. Still others have their meanings change through day-to-day usage. In some cases, words once had a wider spectrum of application, and multiple meanings. A Good example of this is the word "confession." Because of detective and police stories on TV, the word "confession" has virtually been reduced to mean "an admission of guilt."
While this is an accurate usage of the word, we need not limit its usage to only this concept, neither in today's English or in biblical times. According the my large Random House dictionary at home and the Bible, we find the words "confess" and "confession" to be used to also mean:
o to embrace
o to acknowledge
As such, it is a positive not a negative action. We often hear "confessions" of faith at times of baptismal. There are actually many verses in the Bible that use "confession" in this manner.
Matthew 10:32 (KJV)
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me (acknowledge Him) before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
This verse doesn't seem to have in mind the idea of admission of guilt. But rather, when on our part we "confess" - that is acknowledge, and proclaim - Christ before other people, we will find Christ "confessing" - that is, acknowledging - you before the Father as one of His.
What about when we are praying. If we are to pray something like, "You, O Lord, are the only wise God, the Creator of both heaven and earth, and by the shedding of your blood, the Redeemer of mankind," at that moment, you are confessing Him - that is, acknowledging these things to be true - you have accepted them and now declare them to be so. That is confession - though it would be very easy to progress from there into praise.
It is true that, for the most part, when we think of confession in prayer, we are thinking about admission of our guilt of sin. I have started our discussion of the forms of prayer with CONFESSION, because this must be the beginning level of prayer.
Romans 10:9-10 NKJV
9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Effective prayer must flow from a relationship with God, and all relationships with Him must start at Calvary - where the sin question is settled.
Isaiah 59:2 says,
"Your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."
The unconverted sinner may pray a prayer of petition, but they have no assurance that God will listen to them. But one prayer that God has covenanted with all mankind, is to hear and immediately respond to: "God, be merciful to me a sinner." No one has ever prayed this prayer and been denied. The request for pardon is granted automatically: "Case dismissed!"
After we have become a part of the family of God, if we sin, confession is still the avenue through which we establish a relationship with God. Most of you are familiar with 1 John 1:9, spoken to Christians.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Whether you are a person who is confessing their sins in order to become a Christian, or you are already a Christian, but need to confess sins to Him, such confession mean that you agree with God concerning sin. This is where our focus shifts to honestly look at our lives and see our shortcomings and failures. Confessions of sins opens the way for spiritual surgery. Before we can pray for God to change our circumstances, we should pray for Him to change our character.
Those who have confessed their way into such a relationship, find the next step in prayer most beneficial, for they discover that prayer is the channel for petitions. They can now embrace the admonition, "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6)
While crossing the Atlantic on an ocean liner, F.B. Meyers was asked to address the 1st class passengers. At the captain's request he spoke on "Answered Prayer." An agnostic who was present at the service was asked by his friends, "What did you think of Dr. Meyer's sermon?" He answered, "I didn't believe a word of it."
That afternoon Meyers went to speak to the steerage passengers. Many of the listeners at his morning address went along, including the agnostic, who claimed he just wanted to hear "what the babbler had to say." Before leaving his cabin for the meeting, the agnostic put two oranges in his pocket. On the way, he passed an elderly woman sitting in her deck chair fast asleep. Her hands were open, facing upwards. In the spirit of fun, the agnostic put the two oranges in her outstretched palms. After the meeting, he saw the lad happily eating one of the pieces of fruit. "You seem to be enjoying that orange," he remarked with a smile. "Yes sir," she replied, "My Father is very good to me." "Your father? Surely your father can't be still alive." "Praise God," she replied, "He is very much alive." "What do you mean?" pressed the agnostic. She explained, "I'll tell you, sir. I have been seasick for days. I was asking God somehow to send me an orange. I suppose I fell asleep while I was praying. When I awoke, I found He had not only sent me one orange but two. Yes, God keeps all His promises. He is trustworthy. And, by the way, the agnostic later gave his heart to the Lord.
This aspect of prayer, where we ask God a request, is one that we are probably most familiar with. The word "supplication" in the verse we just read in Philippians 4:6, is talking about prayers of petition, where we request something of God. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."
1 John 5:14-15(NIV)
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
15 And if we know that he hears us-- whatever we ask-- we know that we have what we asked of him.
And Paul says of Jesus, in Ephesians 3:20 (KJV)
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
What super abundance has He promised? Whatever we ask of Him.
Let me use another homely illustration. Imagine the family sitting around the dining table at Thanksgiving. Around our table would be all the family that could make it, including our children. Paula has prepared a scrumptious meal, and others have brought salads, deserts, etc. Following grace, everyone has their fill.
What has this to do with petitioning prayer. I see your prayer of petition very much akin to the request, "Please pass the potatoes" during our dinner. There is never a question about whether or not the potatoes will be passed. Their presence on the table means that they are available. The request (petition) is but a polite way of saying that you cannot reach what you now desire from where you sit. The person closest to the potatoes will pass them to the petitioner.
The Father has provided all things needed by His family. He will not thrust these things upon the children, but He delights to serve them up as soon as they are requested. This is part and parcel of the promise that divine provision has been granted to us "that our joys may be full."
When it comes to prayers of petition, there are a number of requests the Bible actually tells us to request. And if the Bible says we are to pray about specific things, then we know without a doubt they are on the table, waiting to be served to any who requests them.
WHAT ARE SOME SPECIFIC THINGS THE BIBLE TELLS US TO PRAY FOR?
1. Pray for the harvest…..that God would send laborers. -- Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2
2. Pray for national and local leaders of government. -- 1 Timothy 2:1
3. Pray that God will open doors for ministry of the Word of God. -- Colossians 4:3
4. Pray for those who have mistreated you. -- Luke 6:28
5. Pray that you enter not into temptation. -- Luke 22:40
6. Pray that you may do no evil. -- 1 Corinthians 13:7
7. Pray that your love may abound toward all people. -- Phil. 1:9
8. Pray that your whole spirit, mind and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord. -- 1 Thess. 5:23
9. Pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. -- Luke 11:13
10. Pray that you may be able to interpret what you speak in tongues. -- 1 Corinthians 14:13
11. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. -- Psalm 122:6
12. Pray that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life. -- 1 Timothy 2:2
13. Pray to have the desires that God wants you to have. -- Psalm 37:4; Mark 11:24
14. Pray for those who have rule over you - pastors, leaders. -- Hebrews 13:7
15. Pray for wisdom -- James 1:5
16. Pray for God's strength -- Ephesians 3:16
Let me close our discussion of the petitioning form of prayer with this comment. In John 15:5, Jesus says "without me you can do nothing." If Jesus was accurate in saying, "without me you can do nothing," then productive prayer must be done with Him - not without Him.
When we pray, we need to always remember:
1. The love of God that wants the best for us.
2. The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
3. The power of God that can accomplish it.
If I were to ask each of you to list your five greatest desires, somewhere up close to the top of the list would be the desire to become more like Jesus. It is only natural for the Christian to have such a goal. And certainly this is God's desire for the Christian as well.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BECOME LIKE CHRIST?
We look at the life that Christ lived as it is recorded in God's Word. We view Him as our supreme example and try to pattern our lives after his. But we must not be shortsighted, and grasp only what He did while on this world. He is still alive and active today. So, to pattern our life after Jesus, we must also look at what He does today.
JUST WHAT IS JESUS DOING TODAY?
I John 2:1 (NIV)
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
The King James Version renders it: "We have an Advocate with the Father." Today, Jesus is our advocate - our attorney before the bar of heaven - in our defense. When Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren (as our prosecutor), points his finger and says to the Father, "Did you see what John Hoole did - he deserves death!" Jesus then steps forward to give my defense, and says "John's sin has been covered by My own blood. Therefore, John should be granted life, not death."
Hebrews 7:25 (KJV)
25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
He is praying and interceding for you and me to the Father. You do well to desire to become like Jesus, and pattern your life after His. But we never will unless we become like him in praying -- interceding for others.
WHAT IS INTERCESSION?
Intercession is prayer on behalf of others. The word is derived from the Latin word "inter" which means "between" and "cedere" which means "go". Therefore intercession literally means to go between two parties.
When he was 18-years-old, Hudson Taylor wandered into his father's library. While there, he saw a gospel tract. He couldn't shake off its message. Finally, falling on his knees, he accepted Christ as his Savior. Later, his mother, who had been away, returned home. When Hudson told her the good news,…..she said, "I already know. Ten days ago, the very date on which you tell me you read that tract, I spent the entire afternoon in prayer for you until the Lord assured me that my wayward son had been brought into the fold."
The following verse is a clear reference to intercession.
Ezekiel 22:30 (NIV)
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.
Intercession means to stand in the gap on behalf of another person or persons. Whenever we pray for the salvation of a family member, that is a prayer of intercession. Whenever we pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest, we are interceding for those we may not even know. We want the gospel to be taken to them.
Another way to look at it is that intercession might be defined as love on its knees in prayer for others.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NIV)
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone,
2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior.
In a very strict sense, Jesus is the only true mediator between God and mankind (1 Timothy 2:5). So, unless we are in Christ, we cannot intercede in prayer for others. But while Christ is the only true mediator, we do read of Paul's prayers where he was interceding on behalf of the churches. He also told us to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Intercession can be one of the most exciting, creative and rewarding experiences in your Christian life. In your prayer closet, you can pray around the world. Although intercessors are not often publicly rewarded or recognized for their service, they are a vital part of any growing church or ministry. Their faithful dedication to intercession creates a foundation that allows the Lord to work in mighty ways.
WHAT COULD BE INVOLVED IN INTERCESSORY PRAYER?
1. Spiritual Warfare
Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
A person interceding for others are doing spiritual battle. You are invading the enemies territory….and he doesn't like it.
In Colossians 4:12 (NIV) Paul speaks of Epaphras,...
...who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
James 5:16 (KJV)
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
When you intercede for someone, there is a sense of urgency and fervency about the issue. Most often, intercessory prayer means the difference between victory or defeat. (Exodus 17:11-13)
Reader's Digest (July 1997)
Late on a black, noiseless night in upstate New York, a young woman decided to take a shortcut home - up a steep, unlit path. Then she heard steps behind her, faster than her own. An instant later a man was upon her, tightening her scarf around her neck and ripping at her pants. At home the young woman's mother woke from a deep sleep, seized with fear that something terrible was about to happen to her daughter. The mother immediately knelt down beside her bed and prayed. For 15 minutes she begged and agonized for God to protect her daughter. Convinced she had won God's protection, the mother returned to a sound sleep. Back on the stony path, the would-be rapist suddenly ceased his assault. He cocked his head - almost beast-like - and fled down the hill.
2. Travail or agony.
Sometimes the battle -- where you stand in the gap for someone -- can be painful. Not only spiritual, or emotionally painful, but physically grueling. In Galatians 4:19, (KJV) Paul speak of praying for the new Galatian believers.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.
Even the Holy Spirit agonized in prayer through us.
Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
The Lord Most High wants His people to pray for others and He marvels when we do not. It is one of the few things mentioned in the Bible that really surprises Him.
"And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor."
There are dozens of examples in the Bible of people standing in the gap for others. Let me point out one that might not quickly come to your mind. The person is Job. And it might surprise you who he interceded - stood in the gap - for.
Job 1:1-5 (NIV)
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
2 He had seven sons and three daughters,
3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
4 His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom.
At this point some of you might wonder why I said "it might surprise you who he stood in the gap for." I only point to this passage to emphasize that Job was a praying and interceding man. You see, these are not the only people Job interceded for. The Lord also had Job intercede for his friends.
Job 42:7-10 (NIV)(NIV)
7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.
It is interesting that after Job interceded for his friends that this is when God restored Job and blessed him with more than before. Intercession is giving, and it always comes with blessings. The greatest blessing of intercession is the presence of God flowing through you in the form of compassion. Intercession and prayer is a gift anyone can give and it is probably the best gift that you can give for someone.
Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
As I stated earlier in our lesson, this verse seems to indicate that petitioning and thanksgiving should always go together.
When I was a child; there were "magic" words that had the ability to enhance relationships. You probably had magic words too. I was taught to say "please" and "thank you." I have found them equally valuable in my relationship with God.
WHAT ARE WE DOING WHEN WE SAY "THANK YOU" TO GOD?
Thanksgiving can be defined as the acknowledgment of a grateful heart that remembers the past mercies and present blessings of God. When I was growing up, we called it "an attitude of gratitude." A "thank you" is an admission that a gratuitous gift has been received. Thanksgiving has its roots in the grace and mercy of God. Thus, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gifts."
Unfortunately, we Christians tend to take for granted many things God does for us.
Romans 1:16-21 (KJV)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful;...
Ingratitude separates us from God. We cannot help knowing that everything we enjoy in Him has come as a gift from his hands.
When one hurts deeply - when there is scar tissue on the heart - when things appear to be hopeless - is there a cure? Most assuredly. Possibly the most powerful antidote for such conditions is thanksgiving. And when you express genuine thanksgiving in such circumstances, it is truly an act of great faith...and, therefore, very pleasing to God.
Paul teaches us the nature of such thanksgiving and when to give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 -- Give thanks in all circumstances.
Ephesians 5:20 -- Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.
Philippians. 4:6 -- In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
It is normal to give thanks after the answer is received, but Phil 4:6 instructs us to offer thanksgiving as we present our requests to God. A pre-answer gratitude could be a preemptive strike against any disappointment over how and when our heavenly Father chooses to answer. If we truly believe that He will always do right by our petitions it will be much easier to be grateful to Him before they are answered.
I should hasten to add that Paul is not even remotely suggesting that you or I thank Satan for the evil deeds he sends our way. On the contrary, we are encouraged to express gratitude to our sovereign God who is in the business of turning perceived tragedies into experiential triumphs. It is God's pleasure to give to His children, but it would greatly increase His pleasure if His people would say, "Thank You" for the gifts He has given them.
Paul tells us, in 2 Corinthians 4:15:
All things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the man, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Abundant grace on God's part should trigger great gratitude on our part.
Colossians 4:2 (NKJ)
2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;
Psalm 100:4 (KJV)
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
This verse says we should begin our approach into the presence of God with thanksgiving. What I get from this verse is that we do not have to create a new route into the presence of God's throne. That avenue has already been constructed - and its name is Thanksgiving. It is a wide street and, unfortunately, there is seldom a congestion of traffic on it. Let's have an attitude of gratitude.
Praise and Adoration
The verse that we just read from Psalm 100:4 links thanksgiving and praise. Often we don't distinguish between thanksgiving and praise, because one flows naturally into the other. It is almost impossible to have a time of prayer that is only thanksgiving or only praise. We pass back and forth from one to the other very easily, and that's as it should be. Praise and thanksgiving are twin sisters. In many respect they look alike, perform alike and come from the same source - gratitude. Despite their similarities, however, they are very distinct and have different purposes.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE?
Praise adores the Giver of all blessings while thanksgiving enumerates the blessings of the Giver. One of these twin sisters thanks God for what He has done, while the other praises Him for who He is. If thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude for what God has done for us, and praise is the giving of glory and worship for Who He is in Himself, then I am led to believe that "Praise" lies in a slightly higher plane than thanksgiving. When I give thanks, you could say that, to some extent, my thoughts still circle around myself, for it is I (or my loved-ones) that have received his blessings for which I am thankful. But in Praise my soul ascends to a self-forgetting adoration of God. Praise looks at HIS majesty and power. It recognizes how awesome He is.
So, again, it appears that praise dwells in a slightly higher plane than thanksgiving. But, according to Psalm 100, which we read a moment ago, they do indeed go together. Twice in Psalm 100:4, they are coupled together.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
But even this verse seems to indicate Praise to be on a higher plane. The Psalmist puts his illustration in terms of the Old Testament tabernacle and temple. The worshipper first must enter the outer gate. But the court, where the worship took place, would suggest increased closeness to the presence of God - a greater intimacy.
But if praise is adoration and worship of who God is, how did we learn of His character and majesty and power? Were they not revealed to us through his acts of lovingkindness to us? And these are the things for which we give Him thanks.
So, thanksgiving and praise will overlap and complement each other. Thanksgiving will, quite naturally, express itself in adoration and praise. And praises will be called forth by the acts of mercy and kindness for which we are giving thanks.
I have used terms like "praise," "adoration," and "worship" all in the same breath. That might lead some to believe they are quite interchangeable, having similar meanings, but they are, in fact, somewhat distinct.
Praise is the acknowledgment of an adoring heart that worships the Giver of all blessings of life.
Adoration is reverence and utmost respect for the holiness of God.
And Worship is an acknowledgment of the personal worth of God.
Heathen religions depict their gods as harsh, cruel and sensuous beings. They are seen as having a desire to only gratify themselves. Worship of these gods is usually an attempt to placate their god's anger -- in hope of preventing that anger from being poured out. These gods are feared, but they are not loved. They are viewed as possessing ultimate power, but having a depraved nature.
Around the world, wherever the gospel has been preached, the nature of the God of the Bible has been received with both relief or disbelief. People are relieved not to have to placate an angry god, but they have a difficult time believing that Jehovah God has revealed Himself as a loving, tender, concerned being, who truly wants to fellowship with people. The story of Christ dying on the cross to rescue us from sin just doesn't compute in their preprogrammed minds, until the Holy Spirit intervenes to give them a taste of God's love. What a cause for praise this revealed nature of our God brings to the praying individual -- whether abroad or here at home.
When anyone is touched by the faithfulness and lovingkindness of God, we can join David, as he expresses himself in Psalm 145.
Psalm 145:1-7 (NKJV)
1 I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.
5 I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.
6 Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness.
7 They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness.
In the remaining verses of Psalm 145, David lists at least nine characteristics of the Lord that are praise-worthy.
In verse 8, he says that:
"The Lord is gracious"
He is "full of compassion"
He is "slow to anger"
He is "great in mercy."
Verse 14 says "The Lord upholds all who fall"
Verse 17 states:
"The Lord is righteous in all His ways"
He is "gracious in all his works"
And verse 20 says:
"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him."
"The Lord preserves all who love Him."
What a list. It is little wonder, then, that the psalmist concludes, in verse 21, with: "My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh shall bless His holy name forever and ever." You and I are part of the "all flesh" mentioned here. We, too, must bless God's holy name both now and forever.
All the remaining Psalms (146 - 150) being and end with "Praise ye the Lord." Hallelujah!!!