Why is worship the single most important thing a Christian can learn to do? This is the subject we have been exploring over these past several months.
We've found that worship is essential because it's the key to our joy, the means by which we are changed into Christ's image and the resource that gives us strength to withstand the trials that God allows into our lives. Scripture tells us that without being worshipers, we'll not be able to enter God's presence; and without His presence, we'll have no joy (Psalm 16:11); and, without joy, we'll have no strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
Worship is the whole reason we have been called, because the Bible tells us we become "like" what we worship. (Psalm 135:18) Consequently, if we want to become more like Christ - more conformed into His image of Love - we must learn to worship more.
Worship, we have found, is a two-way communication. When we humble ourselves, love and worship God, He then hears, answers and reveals Himself to us. He reveals Himself to us not only to give us the strength to continue on, but also the encouragement to pray more. So, experiencing God's presence in our worship times not only leads us to deeper, heartfelt personal intimacy, but also to more intercession for others. Since we are (at that time) truly one with Him in spirit, Scripture promises that He will hear our prayers and also answer them. "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name; ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." (John 16:24)
Just as the perfume of incense and the cloud of Glory intermingled and became one above the Golden Altar of Incense in the Temple of Solomon, when we worship the Lord we become united in love and one in spirit with Him. At that moment we can ask whatever we will and the Lord promises to hear us. We haven't just verbally attached "in His Name" to our prayers, we are literally joined and united "in His Name" while we are praying. Big difference! And because we are "one," He promises to hear and answer. Thus, not only will "our joy be full," but our prayers will be according to His will.
John 9:31 also validates that God hears true worshipers. So again, those who become one with Him by worshiping can be assured He will hear and answer their prayers.
A Praying and Worshiping Man
King David is a perfect example of a worshiping and praying man. Scripture tells us that nothing could take him away from his times of prayer with the Lord. Prayer and worship were central to David's life. Three times a day He came before the Lord to spend time with Him. And Psalm 119:164 tells us that he praised the Lord seven times a day. Try this yourself! Make a concentrated effort to praise God seven different (not consecutive) times in one day. You'll find that it's not as easy as you think. You have to actually plan it out or you'll end up at 8 PM having only praised Him four times thus far. I know. I've tried to do it!
But because of David's intimacy with the Lord, he didn't have to turn to others to tell him what he should do. He was so united with God ("in His Name") that the Lord freely answered his prayers and personally told him what to do. Daniel is another example of one who was at one with the Lord. Daniel was so beloved by God that the angel Gabriel came and told him that the Lord had given him special skill and understanding. (Daniel 9:21-23) What a glorious message to receive from God Himself! Wouldn't you just love to receive a word like that? Wouldn't that give you exceeding joy, beyond anything you could ever think or imagine? Well, that's the kind of intimacy that Daniel experienced with God because he was a worshiper.
Nebuchadnezzar, on the other hand, was not a praying or worshiping man, and, thus, he had to continually seek other people to tell him what to do. He had all the power and all the influence of an emperor, and yet he had no peace, no joy and no answers from the Lord.
Praying the Scriptures
I learned long ago that if I wanted anything at all to be accomplished in my life, it must first be brought before the Lord in prayer. I also learned, however, that there is an appropriate way to pray and an appropriate time to pray. When I followed the Lord's prescribed instructions, tremendous results would occur. When I did things my own way, everything would fall apart! The Lord makes the rules; our duty is simply to follow them.
Someone taught me years ago that when I prayed the Scriptures, God would do powerful things, not only in me, but also in the ones I was praying for. Bob Sorge, in his book Secrets of the Secret Place, states that "when we pray with God's Word on our lips, we know we are praying prayers that are living and powerful." In other words, we are specifically praying "according to His will." Hebrews 4:12 validates this. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
It's true! When the language of our prayers is shaped by the Scriptures, we gain confidence in knowing that we are praying according to the will of God. This way we bypass our own self-centered, pity-party prayers and step into God's thoughts, His mind and His wisdom. Now, there's no reason to be afraid of repetition. God knows our heart and what is important to us, and by repeating the same prayers we become like that persistent friend in Luke 11 who would not take "no" for an answer. (The ineffectual prayers that we must watch out for are those mechanical prayers that the Pharisees prayed in order to be seen, heard and thought of "as godly." These were not genuine prayers from their heart, nor from the Spirit of God.)
Also, when you go into your prayer closet to worship, always have your Bible handy. Then, you not only can pray the Scriptures, but the Lord can also speak His will back to you through the Scriptures.
Since it's always been very difficult for me to memorize Scripture, I found writing the Scriptures out and then praying them, to be extremely helpful and beneficial. So, the following Scriptures are simply suggestions for prayer. They are not intended to be an in-depth thesis on prayer and worship. They are simply some personal thoughts and ideas that have helped me in my almost 50-year walk with the Lord. If they minister, wonderful! If not, skip them and continue reading. Just as in worship, it's imperative to allow the Holy Spirit to direct your prayers. Remember, we are not under the law, but under grace. Therefore, I do not mean to imply some sort of "methodology" or "ritual" here. We certainly don't have to "work our way to heaven." However, I do believe God has given us His Word and He is very pleased when we pray it back to Him.
Some personal prayers that have ministered to me over the years are:
- Psalm 139:23-24: Search me and know my heart and my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in Your way.
- Job 34:32: That which I cannot see, please teach me.
- Psalm 45:17: I desire to make Your Name be remembered in all generations.
- Psalm 17:2: Let my sentence come forth only from Your presence.
- Ephesians 4:29-31: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of my mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearer. Let me not grieve the Holy Spirit, whereby I am sealed. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from me with all malice, etc....
- Ephesians 4:32: Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, just as Christ has forgiven me.
- Hebrews 4:16: Let me come boldly to Your throne in time of need and find mercy.
- Psalm 119:133: Order my steps in Your Word. Don't let sin or self have dominion over me.
- Romans 4:21: I choose to be fully persuaded that what You have promised me, You will perform.
- 1 Corinthians 2:2: I pray that I would know nothing but "Christ crucified."
- Philippians 4:19: That You would supply all my needs according to Your riches in glory.
- Matthew 22:37: I desire to love You with all my heart, with all my will and with all my soul, so that I can then love my neighbor as myself.
- Romans 12:1-2: I offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable which is my reasonable service, and I choose not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed into Your Image (and show forth Your Life) by the renewing of my mind, so that I can, then, prove in my actions what is the good, the acceptable and the perfect will of God.
- Psalm 138:3: Make me bold with Your strength in my soul.
- Galatians 1:16: May You reveal Yourself in me, so that I might speak as You would have me.
- Joshua 9:25: I am in Your hands, do what You will with me. Have Your way in me.
- Philemon 14: Without Your opinion, I will do nothing.
- Acts 2:28: That You would make me full of joy with Your countenance.
- Colossians 3:4: Christ, You are my life.
- Philippians 1:21: For me to live is Christ.
In addition to your own daily prayers for each member of your family, here are some further Scriptures you might want to pray for them. (Again, let the Holy Spirit pick which ones.)
- Ephesians 1:17-19: I pray for Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation for ________. I pray that the eyes of his understanding would be enlightened, so that he might know the hope of Your calling, the riches of Your inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of Your Power towards them who believe.
- Ephesians 3:16-19: I pray________will be strengthened with might by Your Spirit in the inner man; that You might dwell in his heart and that he might be rooted and grounded in Your Love and able to comprehend the breadth, the depth and the height of Your Love, so that he might be filled up with the fullness of You.
- Philippians 3:10: I pray that________may know You and the power of Your resurrection and the fellowship of Your sufferings, so that he might be made conformable to Your Image.
- 2 Timothy 2:25: I pray that You would give________repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.
- Think also about praying: Acts 16:31; 1 Kings 8:23-53; Daniel 9:3-19; and, Colossians 1:9.
Other Suggested Prayers for Loved Ones
Someone once gave me this list to pray for others. As I tried it, I was amazed to see so many I prayed for changed.
- Pray that God would "lift the veil" and give them a personal revelation of Jesus.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to hover over them and give them supernatural protection.
- Pray that God would put Godly people in their path.
- Pray that God would expose all pride and rebelliousness.
- Pray that God would expose all their hidden thought patterns - religious prejudices, known strongholds and evil spirits, etc.
- Pray that God would bind Satan from taking them captive.
- Pray that He would place His armor around them, and that He would do all He could to bring them to Himself.1
I might also suggest making a special prayer notebook or prayer journal with all of your own special Scriptures. Then, you can take it into the prayer closet with you. My prayer diary goes everywhere with me. Those who have seen it laugh, because it is so dog-eared and so beat up. But, never mind, I know what it says and it helps me remember the Scriptures.
Lingering in His Presence
David Wilkerson, again one of my favorite pastors, says, "After I end my prayer time, I linger in my secret closet of prayer. I bow before the Lord and say, `Jesus, I'm here just for You. I won't bring any more requests or petitions. This is Your time and Yours alone. I'm here to listen to Your heart.'" He goes on to say "I simply stay in His presence, loving Him and waiting on Him. I know He will come to me and speak His Mind."2
Then, just like the priests of Solomon's Temple, when their worship and prayer time was over, they went out and ministered to the congregation. We, too, at this point, can go out and share of the fullness that we have received while worshiping the Lord at the altar of our hearts. By doing this, we will bless those we come in contact with by His continuing presence in us.
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To be continued next month: "Spiritual Warfare: Vital for Worship." This article has been excerpted, in part, from Nan's book Private Worship: The Key to Joy. See here for details and other products from The King's High Way.