The Language of Worship
Our Personal Prayer Life
Our personal prayer life with the Lord is as personal as our own individual personalities. None of us are a carbon copy of anyone else because we are all created uniquely different by God. Most believers pray regularly, hopefully daily, while others pray sporatically out of desperation, and hopefully many believers pray continuously throughout the day.
To Those Who Hunger After God
This article is written for those who are hungering for more of God, which automatically brings out a search to find new ways to deepen one's fellowship with the Lord that would fit into one own's personality style. As a teacher and a pray-er, my heart is to teach believers how to grow in their faith, and that includes the area of one's personal prayer life through the language of worship. That means I must be open with my readers to share of myself to help you glean from me, as well as other teachers of the Word, on how to grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord through worship.
I was teaching a group of students on the difference between worship, praise, and thanksgiving in a Bible study some 40 years ago and came to a stark discovery. After an hour or so in my teaching, I wanted my students to put to practice what I had just taught. The first student who opened in prayer began right away using the words thank you over and over for what she was thankful for. In my heart I was screaming NO! NO! NO! Then others opened their mouth saying the same thing. They didn't get it, I thought! What did I do wrong? I realized that day that most Christians do not know how to worship the Lord and I had better learn how to teach my students more effectively on what it means to worship the Lord. Sadly, that realization has proven itself to be true over and over throughout the years.
When I was president of a Christian college, I required every student who had classes that night to attend our weekly corporate prayer meeting. Because we were a small college, and not everyone took classes on that night, we could all fit into a large room and stand in a circle of around 40-50 students. My purpose was to help the students learn how to have a deeper relationship with the Lord through their prayer life, as well teach them how to pray out loud with other believers in a prayer group. That first night we met, I came to the strong realization that the love relationship with the Lord had to be vital in each student as I could see them flondering, not knowing how to pray. I made a promise and a commitment to the Lord that night that I would never begin a prayer without spending time in worship first and I would teach my students to do the same thing.
That commitment brought me to teach the students various words to create a language of worship to the Lord. Some of the words were:
- I love and worship You Lord
- I magnify Your Holy Name
- I exalt the name of Jesus
- Jesus, the name above all name - who is worthy to be worshiped and praised.
- Father, I honor You - for You are so holy
- Jesus, I adore You
An Exercise in Worship
Often we would go around in a circle and each student would do a "popcorn (short sentence) prayer" using the language of worship. It was fun trying to figure out worship words with the alphabet. A very growing experience for me and my students and one, I am sure, that the Lord delighted in hearing.
Adore, Bless You, my Conqueror, I Delight in You, I Extol your holy name,
You are so Faithful, I Glorify Your name, Holy are You Lord, You are the Infinite God, etc.
I began that commitment to the Lord over 25 years ago, promising to begin all my prayers with worship, and I have pretty much kept that promise with every prayer I pray. What that has done for me is heighten my love and worship to the Lord in a much deeper way over the years to where worship is the most vital part of my prayer life. Hopefully that deepening was passed on down to my students at the college as well. My prayer is that this article can also help you learn how to worship the Lord in a deeper way that will bring greater joy to your prayer life and a desire to pray more frequently and more consistently.
Your Prayer Closet
Matt 6:6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
The King James Version calls this room a closet - in other words, a prayer closet where doors are shut and you secretly talk with God. Explaining this verse in the context it is written takes us back to the beginning of this chapter (Matthew 6) where warning was given to the Pharisees and anyone who stood out in public praying to be seen by men. The Apostle Matthew called them hypocrites. They were into themselves, looking for self gratification and glorification for looking so pious. In that, they already received their reward - not from God, but from man. "But you," the Apostle Matthew writes, "when you pray, go into a private room, shut the door, and pray to God in secret. Your reward then will be done openly by God." All this is saying, don't pray outloud to others to be seen as holy. If that is your motive, your prayers are hypocritcal. Earnest prayer comes out of the heart r where God alone is to receive the glory.
I once had a literal closet (with a foam mat on the floor) as my prayer closet where I went every morning to be alone with the Lord. It was great until the aches and pains of age took over. I now have a recliner in my office or I lay in bed in my bedroom to be alone with God.
We all need a special place where we go to meet the Lord. It could be at a table, desk, chair, bed, out walking or driving. The important thing is that we have a place of prayer where we are alone with God on a regular basis. It needs to be a place where you can share with only God what is on your heart - your secret place.
The Basic Elements of Prayer
The Kingdom of God is relational - as believers in Jesus, we become part of His family - the family of God. God is our Father, and we are His children. God communes with us through His written Word and through the power of the God's indwelling Holy Spirit within us. We commune with God through attuning our hearts to His written Word, listening to the indwelling Holy Spirit in our hearts and in prayer. For those who are Spirit-filled, with its evidence, according to Acts 2:4, we also commune back and forth with God through praying in tongues.
The basic elements of prayer consists of worship (adoration), praise, thanksgiving, confession (contrition) submission and petition (asking/supplication). Sadly, many Christians only petition before God when they want something from Him without giving anything in return. That kind of thinking is very much like a spoiled child who only asks his or her father when wanting something without giving anything into the relationship. That is not what God wants out of a relationship with Him.
God wants intimate fellowship with His family, which consists of acknowledging who He is in worship and praise, giving thanks for what He has done, confession of known sins, and surrender to His authority even before petitioning to Him for favors.
The Language of Worship
When God created His most beautiful creation of mankind, He didn't create him to simply be His servant. God wanted fellowship with His most beautiful creation. In that fellowship God so desires to be worshiped above all else. Worship and fellowship was the main reason God created mankind. If only man would realize his true relationship with his Creator and how rewarding it is. Then out of that love relationship comes a desire to serve Him, which brings such fullness in life.
There are times when my whole prayer time is one of worship, and I come out so blessed and refreshed. I know God was pleased, because my love for Him grows deeper everytime I spend that kind of quality time with Him in worship.
After my worship time in prayer, then I am free to go into the other elements of prayer, which I will teach on in other articles.
I don't want to end this article without giving you the awesome challenge of spending more time in worship to the Lord. If you can, even right now, will you find a place where you can be alone, or even right where you are at - in the quietness of your heart, center your thoughts on your love for the Lord and offer up a prayer of worship to Him, expressing that love you have for Him. Not only will you be blessed, but the Lord will be pleased by your expressions of your language of worship to Him.