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Tuesday, December 4, 2018 Fourth Day of Advent: The Gift of Prayer

Before you read today’s post, let me apologize for the errors in yesterday’s post! After years of editing documents, you’d think I’d know to read three times and edit four times!

Enjoy today’s post!

I consider prayer a gift from God. Some people consider it a privilege and I understand why they feel that way. It is a privilege and honor to come into the presence of the Almighty God and talk with Him. Some people consider it an obligation. There have been times, especially in the last few months, when I was not where I should be spiritually, and I’ve also considered it an obligation. But truly, it is a gift. One that we do not take advantage of—or at least I don’t—often enough.

Prayer is a gift because it allows us to come into the presence of God and communicate with Him. Prayer allows us to share our innermost thoughts, desires, and needs, which deepens our relationship with Him. But it is much more than that.

The Gifts inside of the Gift

Have you ever received a Christmas gift and opened it to find another wrapped box inside? You open that box only to find another wrapped box. You continue to do this until you get to the smallest box and there is the actual gift. I find prayer to be like this.

These “gifts within the gift” are best illustrated through what we know as The Lord’s Prayer. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them this prayer as a guide:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13 New King James Version)

Inside this gift of prayer, not only do we find the gift of praise and adoration, but we also offer our gift of praise and worship.  In The Lord’s Prayer, “hallowed” means sacred, holy, revered. We must recognize God as sacred and holy. And we must always revere Him.

Forgiveness is a gift found through prayer. “Forgive us our debts (sins) as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us).” God’s forgiveness is a gift given to us as soon as we ask to be forgiven. Inside this gift of forgiveness we find that once God has forgiven us our sins, He remembers them no more. Note the caveat here: we must forgive those who have sinned against us, so that God can forgive us. (The Gift of Forgiveness will expound on this, to be posted on December 7, 2018.)

A third gift of prayer is praying for our needs and the needs of others. “Give us this day our daily bread.” There are those who feel guilty praying for their own needs. They may think, “There are so many people who are worse off than I am.” That may be true and you can certainly pray for them. But in this verse, God is telling us to pray for our needs, too. Others might say, “But God already knows my needs. This is truth, but He wants us to ask in faith and trust that He will answer our prayers in His own way and in His timing.

Protection is also a gift of prayer. “Deliver us from the evil one” is praying for protection against all that the enemy of our souls might try to bring against us, our loved ones, our nation.

Once again,  we find praise and worship in the last verse. This tells us that our praise and worship are important to God. Our praise, worship and adoration are sweet to His ears.

I am thankful for the gift of prayer.  There is nothing more enjoyable than spending quiet time with God, communing with Him through prayer.

Oh, Abba Father, how sweet is your fellowship. How wonderful it is to spend time with You. You alone, O God, are worthy of all praise and honor. You alone are worthy of glory. During this Advent Season, may we make the time to spend with You, the Holy Child and the King of Kings. Amen.

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Honest, Vulnerable Worship

For the next two weeks, we will look at worship in its different forms. I pray you are blessed by these posts.

This post was originally published on June 24, 2010

For those of you who may not know me very well, I love praise and worship music. I’ve always got my car radio on a Christian station, preferably satellite, which plays non-stop music. Many days at work, I listen to praise and worship music. When I write, I will often have music playing in the background.

Worship music does for me what water does for a thirsty person. It quenches my thirst. It will relieve my parched soul. It gives me strength, takes my mind off of me and my problems and focuses it back where it should be – on the Almighty God.

The Bible commands that we praise God. Psalm 100:1-2Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” It doesn’t say we have to be a soloist, an opera singer, a star recording artist. It says, “Make a joyful noise…” If you still are hesitant to sing in church, perhaps you can relate to this translation of Psalm 100:1-2 from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message:” “On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.” (Emphasis mine)

But worship is far more than just praise and worship songs, far more than singing or playing a musical instrument. We were created to worship God and not just through song. Everything we do should be an act of worship to Him. And the more honest and open and vulnerable we are, the more authentic our worship. This is what Amy Grant is saying in her latest song: “Better than a Hallelujah.”

I heard this song just the other day for the first time. I had to listen closely because at first, I thought the lyrics composer really missed the mark. “God loves a mother’s tears…. a drunkard’s cries??” You’re kidding, right? “He loves the “tears of shame, and the silence when the words won’t come?” He thinks these things are”better than a Hallelujah?” I didn’t get it—until she got to the chorus:

“We pour out our miseries,

God just hears a melody.

Beautiful the mess we are,

The honest cries of breaking hearts,

Are better than a Hallelujah.”

So God wants us to be honest and open with Him. But doesn’t He already know what we’re going through, how we feel? Of course He does. He wants us to be honest with Him because it benefits us. As we openly share our feelings with Him, we realize there is no retaliation from God. No name calling, no being treated as if we are the lowly tadpoles in the bottom of the pond. As we come to understand that God will not reject us because we are a mess, we learn that we are accepted and loved unconditionally.

So the next time you think your life is a mess, remember that God would rather you come to Him openly and honestly. Be Bold! Approach Him just as you are. He will extend His arms and welcome you!

Better Than A Hallelujah:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmtBYmHDeAA

Maranatha!

© Edwina E. Cowgill June, 2010