In our efforts to seek to encounter God and experience his presence, we start by taking a posture of humility and with an attitude of receiving and requesting.  For more on what that looks like, check out 30 Days of Prayer – Prayer Posture.  For today, we want to take another step toward experiencing the presence of God by adding prayers of praise.  

There are three reasons to always begin your times of prayer with praise and thanksgiving. 

  1. Starting with praise is the example we see throughout Scripture, especially in the Psalms.  The book of Psalms can be thought of as a prayer manual of sorts.  Read through it and you’ll find many of them begin with praise.  Psalm 100 even instructs us in verse 4, to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
  2. Beginning with praise also helps solidify the posture of humility that we’ve taken.  By verbally praising God, we are acknowledging to ourselves and the spiritual world that we are surrendered to him. That he is the one who is good and true, the one who is worthy of our praise and adoration.  It’s a good idea to give this praise out loud. Something happens when we hear our own voice speaking.  Our brains more readily believe the information we’re saying, causing us to be more confident in that information.  By declaring out loud that God is good, that we can trust him, that he’s strong and mighty, we are actually helping to convince ourselves of those truths.  This leads to a more natural posture of surrender and humility opening the door for God to lead.
  3. Praising God out loud helps to prepare the spiritual atmosphere.  We’ll talk more about this in a few weeks when we look at the role of prayer in Spiritual Warfare.  For now, just know that by declaring the truth about God out loud, you are breaking spiritual barriers that the enemy has tried to put between you and God and establishing an open line of communication for you to hear him and receive from him.

For the next few days, continue to practice your prayer posture.  You can use this as an example:

Heavenly Father, I come to you now to receive from you the grace, mercy, love and life I need this day.  I thank you for the new life you’ve given to me and I surrender myself to you to receive that life.  I give you all that I am, my spirit, soul and body my heart, mind and will.  You are the hero of my story and I belong to you.  I long to know you, to be restored and renewed in you and to be filled by you.  Would you meet me here and lead this time of prayer?

Then, move into a time of praise and thanksgiving.  You can write your own, use some of the Psalms or follow this example:

I sincerely praise you with everything I am.  I thank you for sending Jesus to make a way for me to know you.  I praise you because you are good, you are holy, you are the only one worthy of my adoration.  You are above all things. The heavens declare your greatness.  By your great love and mercy you have made me a son/daughter.  I thank you for adopting me and I now take my place in your story.

After praying through these two parts, spend some time practicing breathing prayers.  Focus on inhaling the presence of God and as you exhale, surrender yourself to him. 

It’s also helpful to throw up some prayers of praise and thanksgiving throughout the day.  They don’t have to be long, just a acknowledgment of the gifts and blessings he’s given you so far in the day. Even if it’s been a terrible day, find something to praise him for.  I’ve also found it helpful to set reminders on your phone three to five times throughout the day to remember to reconnect with God.  Let us know in the comments how it’s going for you or if you have any questions.  I’m praying that you would connect with God today like never before.

Welcome to 30 days of prayer, I’m so glad you’re taking this journey with us.  Over the next month, I’m going to encourage you to practice some things that will help take your prayer life to the next level.  As you engage in these things, I want to remind you that what we’re after is not some kind of system or rule to obey, but rather experiencing connection with God and in his presence, having our spirit refilled and restored with his light.  Let’s get started!

One of the first things for us to consider is how we should approach God.  What should our posture be? Now I don’t mean physically, although certain physical positions, such as kneeling, sitting with your hands open on your lap or knees or even standing and looking toward heaven can sometimes help.  What I mean by posture is our intent and attitude in coming before the Lord.  Are we coming to fulfill an obligation, are we seeking him only because we need something?  Or is our heart truly postured to be surrendered to him and receive whatever he has for us, bringing our requests humbly before him in submission to his will?  

Now, you may have heard that God is our father and so we can approach him as a good Dad.  If you’ve been around church very long you may have even heard someone use the Aramaic word Abba and translate it as “daddy.”  We find that word used in Romans 8:15, Mark 14:36 and Galatians 4:6.  While the intent here is good, that teaching is, in my opinion, a little off.  It’s true that God has adopted us as daughters and sons and he has given us the privilege of calling him Father. The term Abba certainly carries an intimacy beyond our English word Father, but when we consider Jesus example of prayer and the Jewish culture that this term comes from, Daddy simply dosent carry the respect and reverence that is intended in the term Abba.

This becomes more clear when we look at Jesus teaching on prayer.  In Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13 Jesus teaches his disciples to begin like this: “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.”  Of course we don’t talk exactly like that anymore but you can still see the point.  There is intimacy with the Father, but there is also reverence. He is after all, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings the God who created and holds the universe together. In Jesus example, he reminds the disciples that their Father is the one who sits enthroned in heaven and his name is Holy.  For us, following this model means approaching with an attitude of receiving and requesting not one of demanding.  We can expect God to hear us and answer us, but not to be a genie for us and do whatever we want him to.  It’s his story and we should be about his direction for our lives in it.

The best example I’ve found of how to begin with this posture comes from John Eldridge.  You can read the full prayer that he’s written here or use this as an example:

Heavenly Father, I come to you now to receive from you the grace, mercy, love and life I need this day.  I thank you for the new life you’ve given to me and I surrender myself to you to receive that life.  I give you all that I am, my spirit, soul and body my heart, mind and will.  You are the hero of my story and I belong to you.  I long to know you, to be restored and renewed in you and to be filled by you.  Would you meet me here and lead this time of prayer?  

After asking for renewal and re-surrendering to him, I want to encourage you to just sit and breathe in his presence.  Something that I’ve found very helpful is to close my eyes and imagine that as I inhale, I’m breathing in the presence of God and as I exhale I’m surrendering myself to him.  I even say to myself, “I receive your presence” as I inhale and “I surrender to you” as I exhale.  I’ll often come back to this breathing exercise several times throughout the day as a way to quickly and effectively reconnect and re-surrender to him.

Now, It’s your turn.  For the next three days, try John’s daily prayer or the one I’ve written above.  You can also write your own with the posture of surrendering and receiving whatever God has for you and letting him lead.  Then, practice the breathing prayer throughout the day.  Leave a comment and let us know how it’s working for you or if you have a question we’d love to try and answer that as well.  I pray that the Lord would meet you in new and astonishing ways and that you would know the hope, joy, peace, love and life that comes from his presence.

As we enter 2020, we want to invite you to join us in prayer for the first 30 days.  We’re not praying for anything specific, we just want to connect with God.  Our desire is that your relationship with him would grow and you would experience new depths of connection with him.  This is not about communication, answers or direction, it’s all about getting and staying close to God.

To help you connect with him, I’ll be posting some insights and instructions that will help you experience God’s presence in new ways.  We’ll look at the importance of how we approach God’s throne and how we can be confident that we’ve heard God speak. We’ll talk about some of the actions we take in prayer including, seeking forgiveness and renouncing idols, praying and interceding for others, and engaging in Spiritual Warfare.  We’ll also look at fasting including how, when and why you should fast. 

Remember, this is about connecting with God, it’s not about completing tasks or learning new skills.  Connection takes time, so a new post will go up on Wednesdays and Sundays giving a few days between each one for you to practice what you’re learning and grow your connection with God.  I hope you’ll consider joining us on this journey.  To make it easy for you, you can have these posts emailed to you whenever they are published, just fill out the subscribe form on this page.

My prayer for each of you is that the Lord will reveal himself to you, that you will be filled with his presence and that by his Spirit you will know him and his will and have the power to stand against the schemes of the enemy.  I pray that you will experience greater depths of hope, joy and peace as you walk with him more closely.  I pray that you will be astonished by what God will do, bringing healing, victory and new life in you and in others through you, as you connect with him.  May the King of Heaven bring his kingdom in greater ways in our lives, in our church, in our community and in this world.  Come Lord Jesus!