Prayer and Praise
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD (Psalm 150:6)
Prayer and praise. The words go together well and have a good alliteration. But why do prayer and praise belong together?
Think of prayer and praise as breathing out and breathing in. You can’t breathe out, breathe out, breathe out, too many times in a row without needing to breathe in (or pass out!). Prayer and praise can be likened to the breathing out and breathing in of the Christian life. We breathe out our prayers and whisper them into God’s ear. And we breathe in the sustenance of who God is as we praise him. Prayer and praise, breathing out and breathing in.
During a recent ministry prayer time, after sharing about cancers, deaths, hurricane victims, and family issues, I felt compelled to mention something as a praise. Was I being a Pollyanna and trying to deny the heaviness of the moment, or was I trying to breathe in some sustenance from God, after too many bouts of breathing out?
In our physical bodies, we don’t have to think about breathing out and breathing in. Breathing is an involuntary response that is designed into the fiber of our physical being. How I long for that same involuntary response of breathing out and breathing in—prayer and praise—God I need you each moment; God you are the amazing Creator of life.
Once, during a difficult season of grief, I remember feeling thankful that breathing was an involuntary activity; because I wasn’t sure I had the energy to keep breathing on my own. During such times, the body of the church, a small group, or leadership team serves as our breathing machine, or respirator. When we think we cannot keep breathing, the community of prayer around us can offer assistance to keep the breathing going, until we again have strength to breathe on our own.
Maybe you don’t need a respirator right now, but you are in a winter season. Breathing in may hurt, as the cold winter air hits your lungs. Sometimes the air is so cold, it actually “burns.” Perhaps the pain in your lungs arises from the difficulty of believing praise in the winter season of your soul—of making the choice to praise God as being in control even when circumstances feel out of control: your husband is out of work, your friend is battling demons of addiction, your child has an uncertain diagnosis, or even your church doesn’t feel like a safe place. Breathe in, breathe in praise, into your soul. With time, the cold air warms, and the breathing is no longer painful but invigorating. Breathe in and praise, even during the winter season.
Right now, wherever you are, pause…
Breathe in: God, you are above all gods.
Breathe out: God, I need your touch today.
Breathe in: ____________(praise)
Breathe out: ___________(prayer)
Written by Carla Foote