"Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation." Psalm 100.
A while ago I read a few pages from a book that explained how God delights in our praise and adoring Him for who He is. It took all the names found for God in the bible and suggested entering into a time of prayer by praising God through the list of names. I read through the names and for a week or two I entered into prayer by praising God. I didn't really understand the practice I was beginning, but I knew that in those few weeks my heart and prayer time was different.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was listening to a teaching on prayer. The pastor made a very bold statement by saying that most of our prayers are based on a form or religion and not true worship. I paused my computer for a second and reflected on his claim. How many times had I entered into time with my Heavenly Father grumbling and complaining, telling Him everything I needed and how to fix me so that I could better serve Him (like He doesn't know best?!?)?
And then I remembered those few weeks where I spent most of my prayer life just worshiping God, instead of complaining and then asking for things. I remembered my soul's contentment and pure joy from delighting in the Lord. I remembered my love for God growing deeper and deeper and seeing His glory all around. So I figured this guy had some truth to his claim and began shifting my prayer lingo into praise and thanksgiving. The state of my heart has changed. When you're spending your time telling God how thankful you are for all in your life, even the hard stuff, and genuinely thanking Him for knowing what is best, something supernatural happens. Your soul is delighting in it's maker; and guess what, your Maker delights in His creation (your soul!)!
Praise and thanksgiving is a choice. We must choose to be thankful and begin the discipline of entering into prayer by trusting who God says He is and believing that He is in control and loves you. When we've been thankful for the difficult, small hardships, it will be easier for us to praise God when the bigger challenges of life arise.
So wherever you are, lovely, in your life, family, adoption, infertility, or any challenge, let's try to choose thankfulness. For God always know's best; He is always working and molding, teaching and sanctifying. Let's challenge one another to use this season (Thanksgiving and Christmas), as a time to grow in our praise and thanksgiving to the Lord! We can start today to choose worship and praise rather than complaining and negativity. Let's do this!