Most Saturday mornings kickoff by eating breakfast with my wife while the sound of praise and worship music echoes into every corner of our one-story bungalow home. It’s amazing how we never grow bored of singing about the same adjectives. Sure, we may grow tired of a tune, but we never seem to exhaust what or whom we sing about. To quote the Beatles, “What can be said that hasn’t been sung.” When it’s broken down, all ‘praise and worship’ or hymns are just describing who God is, or focusing on specific character traits of our creator. It’s enjoyable, for many it’s emotional, but when done right it’s pleasing to God. But what is ‘done right’?
“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” – Ephesians 5:19-20
See, the above verse doesn’t mention to sing ‘on key’ or ‘only those with good voices to sing.’ If only the birds that sang the best let us hear their voices, the forest would be silent. The key to singing and doing it ‘right,’ is to sing from your heart. Now, if you are like me, singing is easy (even though its not always on key). I can easily fill void empty moments in my life with a song. Before you think I live life like a musical, I’m talking about driving. I’ll toss a tune on and sing loud and proud in my car. But one thing I don’t find enough time for is prayer. If praise is using adjectives to describe who God is, then prayer is a conversation with God.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” – Jeremiah 29:12
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3
There are too many to list. This may not apply to you, but for those of you who are in my shoes, there’s a good chance that prayer is the weakest part of your ‘spiritual health’. There is almost an awkwardness in praying. Nodding off while praying at night with your eyes closed, running out of things to say, or simply just easily distracted that prayer becomes an after thought. It’s not that I don’t turn to God when I need help, cause trust me, in those times I pray quite often. However, when my needs have been met after trouble times, my prayer fizzles out and I focus more on the voices of this world than the One that has overcome it.
“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16
Prayer was an active part of Jesus’ life. It wasn’t only in time of need like in Gethsemane when he asked for the cup to pass knowing what agonizing pain lied ahead. But He prayed often and daily. In fact, Luke 11:1 we see how pivotal prayer is in our lives when we see the disciples asking to be taught how to pray.
Think of your spouse, or a close friend. If you sang songs to them whenever you thought of them or whenever you went to their house, it would be nice at first but slightly awkward after a while. What they would truly want is a conversation with you. Don’t get me wrong, praise is beautiful to God’s ears, but I’m also certain that He desires something more than just words of affirmation. God calls us into a true relationship with him and how healthy is a relationship with little conversation?
I challenge you this week to re-evaluate your prayer life and look for ways to improve it. I’ve been told that if you challenge yourself to set aside 30 minutes to pray every day, after a few awkward and quiet days, you will eventually find that 30 minutes is too short. From where I sit now, it seems strange, but I know I have a lot to learn and I openly admit this is not my strength, but an important one to work on.
Praise is important. Prayer is important. The more you pray, the more thankful you can become. This will in turn translate into a stronger quality of Praise.
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” – James 5:13