This article was originally published in Edition (4) of Prayer Magazine, Autumn 2005.

A for Adoration

To adore is to love.  The dictionary definition is “to love deeply.   To worship as divine.”

Although the word adoration does not appear in the KJV of the Bible, what it describes does

Kiss the Son (Psalm 2.12).   Worship Him.   Fall in adoration, not in mock obedience or subservience, but out of sheer delight and love.

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27.4)

“Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord” we sing at Christmas.   Christ as an infant was adored by shepherds, kings, angels and no doubt by his parents.   Simeon and Anna in the temple had been waiting for such a day as this, as they held Him in their arms, and spoke to others of Him.   With Solomon we can declare “We rejoice and delight in You; we will praise your love more than wine.   How right they are to adore You.” (Songs of Songs 1.4)

When we say we adore something – a beautiful scene, an intricate painting, an item of clothing – we usually mean we admire it and the detail and beauty that the creator has given to it.  

When we look at the Son of God, let us concentrate on the beauty of His character, His relationship with God, the details of His care for others.   He was created by the Creator of all things, conceived by the Holy Spirit.   The Son was perfect in every way.   Created in the image of God, unflawed, unsullied by sin, unaffected by the opinions of others, He reflects the beauty of the God of the Universe. 

Spend time meditating on Him and His character.

Think of the things He did to show what He was like.  

Think of how He shared His time with His disciples. 

Think of Him now in Heaven – at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us.  

Think of the things He said.  

Think of Him crowned with glory and honour.

Sit in His presence, and let Him love you in return.

Paint a picture, make a drawing, write a poem or a song, reflecting on the love relation that inspires you to adore Him.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength – this is the 1st Commandment.   Jesus adds to that ‘all your mind’ (Deut 6.5, Matthew 22.37)

“I love the Lord for He heard my voice” (Psalm 116.1).   Read through the Psalms or do a word-search in your computerized version, looking for the word ‘love’, and let those expressions of His love and yours blend in abandoned worship and adoration.

Although you may have never experienced real love from another human being, you can experience God’s love.   He is the Father who cares for you.   Picture yourself sitting in His presence.   How would He respond to you, and you to Him?  

A is for Aloud

In the introduction to Habakkuk chapter 3, the NIV says “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet.   On shigionoth.”   The same word is used in the title of Psalm 7.   It is probably a musical term meaning rambling – or as someone has interpreted the original Hebrew “wild and enthusiastic prayer”!

I like that.   Some forms of prayer require us to be wild and enthusiastic.   When we were children and had a rumbustuous play time with our earthly father, most of us would have been wild and enthusiastic, and we would shout!  

Not all prayer is quiet, nor silent.   In Psalm 55.17, David said “at noon, I will pray, and cry aloud.”   He was in distress and gave full expression to his emotions.  

In Psalm 59.16 (AV) David says “I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning.”   God is worth praising.   And in Psalm 149.5 we are exhorted “Let the saints rejoice in this honour and sing for joy on their beds.   May the Praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands”.    Again the AV uses the words “sing aloud”.   Never mind the neighbours, be more concerned for others in the same household!  

In his prayer of repentance for his sin, David asks God “Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness” (Psalm 51.14).   One of the golden oldies of spiritual songs begins “Clap your hands all you people, shout unto God with a voice of triumph”, quoting Psalm 47.1.   Deliverance from sin and from the power of the enemy requires us to shout for joy, doesn’t it?!

However, many people find it unbelievably difficult even to pray out loud.   For them the problem is to make even an audible whisper in prayer to God.   Sometimes this is pure shyness, or an uncertainty about whether they can get the right words out.   For others the silence is born out of years of being told by a parent or guardian “Be quiet”.   The phrase “little ones should be seen and not heard” has blighted social interaction and the pleasure of many a loving relationship with God.   Some women have been brought up in religious environments where they had to keep quiet at all times and in all things (except singing).

Once when leading a prayer seminar, I purposefully encouraged those who had never prayed out loud before to have a go.   In one triplet group a lady who had been a Christian for more than thirty years had never been able to pray aloud before, but once she started, the others couldn’t get a word in edgeways!

So how can we get started on audible prayer?   Start on your own either at home or when out walking by singing aloud a favourite worship song, and then continue in words of your own making to tell God what you feel about Him.   Sometimes when I’m alone driving I will have a time when I ‘let rip’ in prayer or praise.   Why?    For the sheer exhilaration of knowing that only God can hear what I’m saying.   It doesn’t have to be public to be aloud.   In fact loud prayer in public can even be a bit of a show, unless it arises out of genuine relationship with our Father in heaven, or is appropriate for the occasion (like when trying to pray above the noise of traffic in an open air meeting)!

Get used to the sound of your own voice.   When reading the Scriptures, read out loud.   Do the same when praying.   This can even be a remedy for wandering thoughts as well.

Loud prayer is allowed!   You have Biblical warranty for praying aloud.  

A is for Asking

“Ask and it will be given to you”, says Jesus (Luke 11.9).   In His upper room ministry, recorded in John chapters 13 to17, six times Jesus invites us to ask God for anything (see John 14.13 and 14, 15.7 and 16, 16.24 and 26), using His name.   Even in the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, we have the words “Give us this day our daily bread”.   God invites us to ask Him for things.  It is not wrong to ask God for things.   In fact it is perfectly alright, positively encouraged and should be seen as part of normal prayer!

Many people, however, do find it incredibly difficult to ask anyone for anything, let alone God.   Having been brought up to believe that only what you can do for yourself is of value, and that “being independent” means that one must muddle through on one’s own, creates a climate of self-sufficiency.   Even if you are in need you should never express that need to anyone.   So millions persevere in a world that revolves around themselves and their own ability.   This is surely one of the devil’s ploys to keep us from a life of faith!   For a life of faith in God implies a willingness to ask Him for anything at any time and in any place.

On the other hand, many people’s only experience of prayer is of asking God for things.  It’s almost as if they make up a shopping-list of requests to God, rather like a child writing a list for Father Christmas.    God is more than a ‘sugar daddy’.   He is a real Father.   He wants the relationship with us to progress beyond the childhood wants of a toddler or baby.   He is looking for a genuine trusting relationship where on the one hand we will be able to ask Him for anything, but on the other, we will not take His grace for granted.   We will want more from the relationship than merely to be asking for things.

There are certain things that God actually invites us to ask Him for.  “Ask of Me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalm 2.8)   When did you last do that?   Although this is spoken prophetically of Jesus, we as His friends can do the same – it’s in the will of God for this to happen.   God wants the knowledge of His glory to fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2.14 and Isaiah 11.9).   Are we praying regularly for that?  

The Great Commission (Matthew 28.18-19, and Acts 1.8) is also something God wants to be fulfilled.   So shouldn’t we be asking God for this to progress?   These are not selfish prayers – these are prayers we know God is interested in answering.   When we pray meaningfully and with faith for what God wants, then our prayers for what we need will be more meaningful and seen in a proper context.   We want God’s will to be done.   Even Jesus, in asking for the cup of the Cross to be taken away, if possible, still prayed “nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done”.

Analyse what the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 prayed for.   In every situation they prayed for things that were beyond them and beyond normal expectations.   James counsels us to ask in faith (James 1.6), and we could add, ‘not with wishful thinking’.    He also says we should ask with the right motives (James 4.3).   If we ask anything of Him according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5.16).   And He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3.20).  

What a wonderful Father we have!   Let’s keep asking of Him.   And maybe we could take a tip from one old prayer warrior who had several notebooks of prayer requests, against which he wrote the date when each request was granted and each prayer was answered!

What is the biggest thing you can ask of God?   Ask Him!

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