PRAYER AND PRAISE
A. Introduction: For many weeks we have been looking at what the Bible says about praising and thanking
God continually. Ps 34:1; Eph 5:20; I Thess 5:18; Heb 13:15; etc.
1. God’s Word (the Bible) tells us to praise and thank God always—no matter what, in the good times and
in the bad times, when we feel like it and when we don’t.
a. Praise and thanksgiving, in its most basic form, is a verbal acknowledgement of God. We, out of
our mouths, proclaim who He is and what He does. Ps 107:8; 15; 21; 31
b. We praise God continually because it’s always appropriate to praise Almighty God. We thank God
continually because there is always something to thank Him for—the good He has done, the good
He is doing, and the good He will do.
2. Continual praise and thanksgiving doesn’t happen automatically happen. In fact, we all have a natural
tendency to focus only on what we see in our circumstances and then complain about. We must put
forth effort to develop the habit of continual praise and thanksgiving to God.
a. Last week we discussed Paul the apostle. He had a well developed habit that enabled him to
respond to very difficult circumstances with continual praise and thanksgiving to God.
b. We looked at Paul and his co-worker Silas who were arrested, beaten, and chained in a prison in the
the Greek city of Philippi. Yet at midnight, they prayed and sang praises to God. Acts 16:25
1. Not long after, Paul wrote to believers in the Greek city of Thessalonica who were experiencing
persecution for their faith. He told them: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks
in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thess 5:16-18, ESV).
2. Several years later Paul wrote to Christians in the city of Rome: Rejoice in hope, be patient in
tribulation, be constant (persevere) in prayer (Rom 12:12, ESV).
3. A few years after that, when Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he sent a letter to the believers in
Philippi and exhorted them: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer
and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6, ESV).
c. Note that in these verses Paul connects praise, thanksgiving, and prayer. Praise and thanksgiving
can and should be expressions of prayer to God. In this lesson we’re going to consider the
relationship between prayer and praise and thanksgiving.
B. We aren’t going to do an exhaustive study of prayer. But, before we discuss the relationship between
prayer, praise, thanksgiving, we need to make some general comments about prayer.
1. Prayer is a challenge for many if not most of us. We’re not sure what to say or how to say it. We aren’t
sure if God hears us, let alone will answer us.
a. For many, if not most of us, prayer is a desperate request to God to stop our troubles and fix our
situation. Or we list the reasons why we deserve His help because of our faithfulness and works.
b. And, much of the popular teaching in the Church over the last few decades has reduced prayer
to a technique: if you say the right words in the right way, you’ll get your answer.
1. But prayer is not mechanical, nor is it transactional—I do this so that God will do that. Prayer
is more than simply asking God to give us things and fix our circumstances.
2. Prayer is relational. Prayer is the means by which we commune or communicate with God.
Through prayer we express our attitude toward the Lord—our reverence and love for Him, and
our dependence on Him for everything.
2. To pray effectively, we must understand that many, if not most, of life’s challenges cannot be easily
changed, if at all. Troubles are unavoidable in this broken world. Rom 5:12; Gen 3:17-19; etc.
a. We live in a fallen world that is infused with a curse of corruption and death. We must daily deal
with the effects of this curse—loss, pain, frustration, disappointment, hardship.
1. Jesus Himself said that in this world we will have tribulation, and moths and rust will
corrupt, and thieves will break through and steal. John 16:33; Matt 6:19
2. But God is able to use the harsh realities of life in a fallen world and cause them to serve His
ultimate purpose for a family of sons and daughters who are like Jesus. God is able to bring
genuine good out of truly bad circumstances. Some of the good is realized in this life, but most
of it, in the life to come. Eph 1:9-11; Rom 8:18; II Cor 4:17-18; etc.
b. Much of the time, prayer doesn’t change your circumstances. Prayer changes you by changing
your perspective and your attitude toward your circumstances.
1. Paul wrote that the first effect of prayer is peace of mind, a peace that passes understanding.
Peace of mind means freedom form disquieting thoughts and emotions (Webster’s Dictionary).
2. Phil 4:6-7—Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you
need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace,
which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your
hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (NLT).
A. Paul was repeatedly harassed by a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan (fallen angel)
who stirred up wicked people against Paul wherever he went to preach the gospel. Paul
begged the Lord three times to remove it.
B. The Lord’s answer: My grace is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.
So now I (Paul) am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may
work through me…for when I am weak, then I am strong (NLT, II Cor 12:9-10).
3. We don’t know what words Paul and Silas prayed when they were locked up in the Philippian jail. But
we do know what they knew about prayer, praise, and thanksgiving from the Bible, the Word of God.
a. They would have been familiar with a prayer prayed by King Jehoshaphat of Judah when three
enemy armies joined together to attack him and his people. Judah was greatly outnumbered and
very afraid when Jehoshaphat led the people in prayer to God. II Chron 20:5-13
1. The king began his prayer by magnifying (or praising) God: “O Lord, God of our ancestors,
you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are the ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth.
You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you” (II Chron 20:6, NLT).
2. Next Jehoshaphat he recalled God’s past help and promise of help in time of future trouble
(II Chron 20:7-9). Finally, he stated the problem and expressed their complete dependence on
Almighty God: We don’t know what to do. But our eyes are on you (II Chron 20:10-13).
3. Jehoshaphat and his armies went into battle with praisers out in front of the army declaring:
“Give thanks to the lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure for ever” (II Chron 20:21,
Amp). And, the Lord delivered them from their enemies in a mighty victory.
b. This incident shows us an important point about prayer. Prayer is first and foremost God-ward, not
man-ward. Prayer begins with God, His honor and His glory, not our problem and what we want.
1. No matter how desperate we are or how great our need is, prayer must begin with the realization
that we are approaching the Creator of all, the King of the universe, Almighty God.
2. When we magnify God (praise Him for who He is and what He does) He gets bigger in our eyes
and our confidence in His help and our peace of mind grows. And, we become thankful.
4. Paul would have also known what Jesus taught about prayer. Remember, Jesus personally instructed
Paul after his conversion and gave him the message that he preached (Gal 1:11-12). Let’s consider what
Jesus taught about prayer.
C. When Jesus was on earth, His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. Jesus gave them a prayer known as
the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father, and told them this is how you should pray. Luke 11:1-4
1. Let’s read it: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will
be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we
forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matt 6:9-12, KJV).
a. In this prayer Jesus gave a pattern or a model for prayer. It has elements that should be found in all
prayer. Notice that the first half of this prayer is God-ward or directed toward God and His glory,
and the second half is man-ward or directed at us and our needs.
1. Should we pray this prayer word for word, just as it is? There’s nothing wrong with doing so.
First of all, it’s a prayer given by Jesus. Second, we can assume that Jesus followed this
pattern when He prayed. Third, praying it will help you grow in what and how to pray.
2. Didn’t Jesus say we shouldn’t use vain repetition or repeat the same words over and over (Matt
6:7)? Jesus’ listeners would have recognized this as a reference to pagan practices, such as the
prophets of Baal who cried all day long: Baal hear us (I Kings 18:25-29).
b. Jesus told His listeners that our Father knows what we need before we ask (Matt 6:8). But we are to
ask any way as an expression of our trust in and dependence on God who is the source of all.
2. Note that Jesus opens the prayer with the statement our Father. Jesus came into this world to die as a
sacrifice for sin. By doing so, He opened the way for men and women to be restored to their created
purpose as sons and daughters of God through faith in Him. John 1:12-13
a. Jesus was born into 1st century Israel. God was the Father of Israel as a whole in that He was their
Creator, Redeemer, and covenant maker (Ex 4:22-23; Jer 31:9; Hosea 11:1). However, they had no
concept of an individual Father-son relationship with God. They were servants of God, not sons.
b. In many ways, Jesus’ earth ministry was transitional. He was preparing people to receive a new
kind of relationship with Almighty God—that of God as our Father and us as sons and daughters.
1. During His ministry Jesus modeled what a Father-son relationship looks like. Remember,
Jesus is God become man without ceasing to be God—one person, two nature; fully God and
fully man. While on earth He lived as a man in dependence on God as His Father. By doing
so He showed us what a relationship with God looks like. John 1:1; John 1:14; Phil 2:6-7; etc.
A. Jesus in His humanity is the pattern for God’s family (Rom 8:29). He showed us what
sons and daughters who are submitted to the Father’s will (fully pleasing to Him) look like.
B. Why did Jesus say our Father as opposed to my Father? This was culturally appropriate.
Jews approached God with the concept that they were His people and, together, were part
of something. This doesn’t mean you and I can’t pray My Father or must pray in a group.
2. During His time on earth, Jesus also gave us important information about God the Father.
A. Jesus did the works of God the Father and spoke His Father’s words. When we look at
Him we get an idea of what God is like and how He treats sons and daughters. John 14:9-10
B. In the context of praying to God the Father, Jesus made it clear that our heavenly Father is
better than the best earthly father. Matt 7:7-11
3. Jesus continued: Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will
be done in earth, as it is in heaven Matt 6:9-10. In other words, the God to whom we pray is above all.
a. When we approach our Father, we are approaching Almighty God—the Transcendent, Eternal,
Holy, God who is worthy of reverence and awe. He is not Daddy God or Papa. He is Omnipotent
(All-power), Omniscient (All-knowing), and Omnipresent (present everywhere at once).
b. Hallowed means to make or keep holy: May your name be honoured (J. B. Phillips); be revered
(Moffatt); be held holy (20th Cent). Name means God Himself. The Jews had such reverence
for God that they referred to Him as the Name to avoid speaking His name aloud (Yahweh, Jehovah).
1. Jesus said that we should desire that God Himself would be reverenced and honored by all,
and that all would see and know Him as He truly is—and then worship and glorify Him.
2. Note what Paul later wrote about worshipping God: Since we are receiving a kingdom that
cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and
awe (Heb 12:28, NLT).
c. Jesus said that our first desire should be that God’s kingdom come and that His will be done on earth
as it is in Heaven. The meaning is twofold.
1. We should desire that the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus advance so that the
reign (the kingdom) of God can be established in the hearts of people when they believe on
Him, and then live their lives in submission to the will of God their Father. Luke 17:20-21
2. And we should desire Jesus’ return so that God’s visible, eternal kingdom can be established on
earth and His will perfectly expressed. This sin cursed world then will be freed from the curse
of sin, corruption and death and restored to a fit forever home for God and family. Rev 11:15
4. The next three requests in the Lord’s Prayer deal with us and our needs: Give us this day our daily
bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver
us from evil (Matt 6:11-13, KJV). These requests address our physical, mental, and spiritual needs.
a. We aren’t going to discuss all of them now (we’ll do so next week). But notice one point.
Immediately following the first three lofty requests—that God’s name be revered, His kingdom
come, and His will be done—Jesus’ next statement reveals that this Transcendent, Glorious Being,
the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, is concerned about our daily bread
b. Daily bread means more than food. It means all of our material needs, everything that is necessary
to live in this world. In His earth ministry Jesus made it clear that God is concerned for and aware
of the details of our life—your life, my life.
1. Jesus told His followers that God the Father knows we need the necessities of life, and that as
we seek Him first (desire His glory, His will be done, and His kingdom come) He will give us
what we need. Jesus said that birds eat and flowers are dressed because our heavenly Father
takes care of them—and we matter more than flowers and birds. Matt 6:25-34
2. Jesus told His followers: Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground
without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t
be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows (Matt 10:29-30, NLT).
c. John 16:23-24—The night before Jesus was crucified He told His apostles that a day was coming
when they would pray to the Father in His name and the Father would hear and answer.
1. Jesus wasn’t giving them the rules for prayer—you must use my name in your prayer. He was
making the point that His death and resurrection would make it possible for men and women to
become sons and daughters of God—and go to God for help, just as a child goes to their father.
2. Stephen the martyr and Paul the apostle both prayed to Jesus after His resurrection (Acts 7:59;
II Cor 12:8-9). Prayer isn’t about technique. It’s an expression of relationship.
D. Conclusion: God desires relationship with us. Prayer is relational and keeps us in contact with our Father
—who He is and who we are in relation to Him. It magnifies God and increases our trust in Him.
1. Prayer is God-ward. It should not start with us and what we want. It begins with who God is and what
He wants. Beginning prayer with God is not only appropriate because of who He is, it also benefits us.
a. When you begin your prayer with praise to God by acknowledging His bigness and goodness, you
magnify Him, which relieves some of the mental and emotional pressures of life’s troubles.
b. When you magnify God through praise and thanksgiving, He gets bigger in your eyes which
increases your trust in Him and gives you peace of mind.
2. Paul wrote that we are to pray without ceasing (I Thess 5:17) and persevere or keep at it (Rom 12:12).
Continual praise and thanksgiving to God helps you persevere and pray without ceasing.
3. Did Paul pray the Lord’s Prayer? There is no reason to think that he didn’t. He most certainly prayed
according to the pattern laid out by Jesus. He acknowledged God with praise and thanksgiving, desiring
His glory and will above all. We would be wise to do so as well. Much more about prayer next week!