“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” – Psalm 150:6
My six-year-old has a favorite dinner game where we go around the table and share something on a topic or question. The majority of the time the topic centers around gratitude or thankfulness and although it is usually met with groans around the table it is a great exercise for our hearts as a family.
I was taught as a child to pray in sequence using the acronym P-R-A-Y. (P)raise – (R)epent – (A)sk – (Y)ield. It was always emphasized that before anything else, start by saying thank you. To acknowledge blessings and with gratitude praise God.
The author Steve Pettit from his book “How to Pray 30 Minutes a Day” gives three reasons why praise first is so important. They are:
Praise focuses our minds on Christ – We, by our very nature, are self-centered beings and praise causes our minds to focus on the glory of God instead of on ourselves.
Praise affects our feelings – Emotions can often keep us from pursuing intimacy with God in prayer. Praising God for his good gifts can have the effect of causing deep affection for God for his provision.
Praise is preferable to despair – In my experience, people tend to be much quicker to focus on the negatives in their lives than the positives. Praise pulls us away from the negatives to celebrate the grace in our lives!
Praise and gratitude get us out of our heads and refocuses us towards God. It’s a good way to not only start a prayer but to start your day, while on a walk, during dinner, or just before bed. Gratitude is a powerful weapon against despair and can work wonders on our mental, and emotional healing.
Dear Lord, we praise you for your grace and thank you for your many blessings, help us to always remember those gifts and to live a life of gratitude. Amen