Four-part series: Pursuing an Effective Personal Prayer Life. Our foundational goal here at Sweet Selah Ministries is to encourage daily quiet times with God. We are all about the sweetness that comes when we selah (stop) and simply choose to be with God for a short while—or a long while. Our time alone with Him fuels us for the rest of the day. We meet God through the pages of His living Word, the Bible. We read and meditate and write to Him about what He says to us in the pages of the Book of books. And then we pray. In this series on pursuing an effective personal prayer life, we are going to look at three different types of prayer and help you incorporate all three into your personal prayer life: God-focused prayer (look up), self-focused prayer (look within), and other-focused prayer (look around). The fourth lesson looks at those times when it seems impossible to pray. We hope this revolutionizes your prayer life and makes you eager to meet with Him in prayer each day.
Today, we look at God-focused prayer. Let’s Look Up!
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. —Psalm 3:3 ESV
Usually we bow our heads when we pray, but do you ever find your head simply lifting up higher and higher when you are praising the living God? When we glory in His greatness, amazed by His love and His power and His goodness, we find our heads lifting in worship. We literally “look up.” It’s one of the sweetest ways to pray—directing our prayers toward God proclaiming His wonder and His splendor. There is an incredible joy in simply honoring God and “looking up!”
God-focused prayer is the heart of adoration and worship. We recount back to God in amazement all He means to us. Just as a lover would whisper to his sweetheart, “You are wonderful. I love your caring heart and the way you are tender with others,” so we whisper or shout (depending on temperament and mood and situation) our love-words to God.
Nehemiah gives us an example of God’s people extoling His greatness. Read these beautiful words and whisper them to the Lord as you read and just see if your heart doesn’t sing and your head doesn’t lift itself up: “… ‘Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you’” (Nehemiah 9:5b-6 NIV).
Let’s remember that God’s greatest commandment is that we love Him—so we need to often declare our love for Him in God-focused prayer. One way our praise prayers show Him our love is by simply listing His attributes. This is a lesson I learned from my years in Moms in Prayer.* This wonderful ministry teaches praise prayers through listing God’s attributes. Here’s an example for you to pray: Lord, this morning I praise You because You are strong, yet tender with Your lambs like me. I thank You for being the way to eternal life. I love You: Light of the World, Redeemer, Savior, King of kings, Merciful and Just, my All in all.
In addition to adoring God for who He is, we also ought to thank Him for what He has done. Everything that we are and everything that we have—are gifts from His hand. Every bite we eat, every breath we take, every single thing we do, is because He has given us life and strength and a body through which we live and move. God is pleased when we “enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise …” (Psalm 100:4a NKJV). When we pray, let’s look up to the One who gives all good gifts—and remember to thank Him after we have praised Him!
I’ve made it a personal practice each morning to reflect on the previous day and write down three thanksgivings in my journal. Here’s a peek at a typical journal entry:
I’m thankful for …
- that little female cardinal who sang for me yesterday when I sat on the deck.
- a sweet conversation with my mother on the phone.
- this cup of tea, hot and refreshing, as I meet with You today.
Here’s your personal prayer challenge for the week: If you are not in the habit of “Look Up” prayers of praise and thanksgiving, incorporate these into your daily time with God each day as you meet with Him. Whisper your love to Him, listing His wonderful qualities and characteristics. Thank Him specifically for special gifts from His good hand. I suspect you’ll discover as you pray … your head will lift up, up, up as you marvel at this wonderful God who made you and loves you.
We praise You, Lord! You surround us like a shield, keeping us safe from our enemies. You fill us with joy as we lift our heads in adoration to You. Help us this week to look to You in praise and thanksgiving, honoring You in our prayer life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
* For more information about Moms in Prayer International, click here.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service
To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)
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