It was the mid-60s. I was a relatively new Christian, and everything spiritual was deeply refreshing to me. I recall listening to a record album of a man singing about the death of Christ and what it means to us. I was overwhelmed with the love of God. The God who created the universe; the One who hung the stars in space; this great and mighty God loved me so much that He gave His own Son to die for my sins. I was awe-struck by that thought.
I was so overcome that I left my dormitory room and walked to a nearby lake and spent time in prayer. As I prayed, there were no thoughts of asking God for anything. I only wanted to worship and praise Him. His presence filled my heart. I spent most of the rest of the evening simply basking in His presence. Decades later, I can almost smell the fragrance of those moments.
Prayer becomes exciting when we enter into our intimate times with Him via praise and worship. I’m a terrible singer. In fact, I was voted the second worst singer at the college I attended! The sounds that come out of my mouth are horrible to the listener. However, when I praise God, it’s beautiful melody to His ears! He loves to hear His children worship Him.
When we begin our prayer time with worship and praise, we discover the joy of intimacy with God. When we begin to see Him as “our Father” and begin to thank and praise Him for who He is, something very wonderful begins to take place. The rituals of our prayers become dynamic, Spirit-filled supplications.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus taught His disciples to pray this way. He opened the door of prayer with the disciples’ focus on God. He taught them to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9 NIV). He knew the entrance to the secret chamber of prayer is the high praises of God. Therefore, He taught His disciples to begin their time in prayer with worship and praise.
We were created for this purpose – to know, love and worship the One who created us. Prayer affords us the opportunity to do that in a very clear and direct manner. There’s no greater privilege than that of praising and worshipping God. It was the characteristic displayed so often by Israel when she was in the center of God’s will. It’s what took place when they experienced revival.
And praise was the great characteristic of the early church. The Scriptures say, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46, 47 KJV). The church in the book of Acts was a powerful church because it was a praying church. But what kind of praying church were they? They were a praising people! Such a church will touch the heart of God. And when God’s heart is touched, all heaven is released! That’s when revival comes.