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How to Pray in Praise and Worship

How to Pray in Praise and Worship

Need Answers? Power-packed worship prayers bend God’s ear and change your life!

I'm writing this at Christmas, which should be a time of peace and joy! Instead we have buyer’s remorse, exhaustion from hectic schedules, grief from losing loved ones and dread at entertaining extended family we dislike. Where did Jesus go? Why don’t we feel joyful?

You are hurting, aren't you? You are stressed. I know I am. How do you know you are worried and stressed? 42% of Americans experience these stress symptoms: anger, irritability, depression, headaches, upset stomachs, poor eating habits or insomnia. We all need God to intervene!

19th century pastor Charles Jefferson wrote, "Be kind to everyone you meet, because everyone is fighting a battle." Satan often taunts us with fear of uncertain futures or guilt and grief from our pasts.

Where is God? I need Him to show up. And so do you!

Worshipful prayers don't hit the ceiling, unnoticed by God. Worshipful prayers grab God’s attention and change our perspectives. Gazing at our miserable problems and glancing at Him won’t get the job done. We must gaze steadily at our Father and simply glance at the difficulties that challenge us.

Let’s examine four keys to power-packed praying:

  1. Spiritual songs
  2. Hymns
  3. Psalms
  4. Blessings

Ephesians 5:19-20 reads,

“…Be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” NIV

Paul teaches three ways to sing to the Lord: with psalms (Scripture), hymns (words about God’s character and work) and spiritual songs (spontaneous song inspired by the Holy Spirit).

Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are deep prayers of worship sung in the presence of the Holy. Blessing bows the heart in surrender.

1. Spiritual songs are spontaneous expressions of worship inspired by the filling of the Holy Spirit.

I began playing the piano at three. The Holy Spirit gave me my first spiritual song. I still remember playing my toy piano, chirping, “Little angel, little angel, little angel mine.” Jesus revealed to me that I had a shiny guardian angel hovering over me, making me feel loved and safe.

Countless worship services, concerts and compositions later, singing and playing in the Spirit has become my lifeblood. The passionate joy of the Lord explodes through my fingers, my voice or baton. His anointing power electrifies and consumes me. I don’t really care who hears or whether I falter. I just want Him near.

Hymns tell us who God is and what He does for His children. My infant daughter Jessica died in my arms one bleak Saturday night after suffering nine months of agony, gasping for breath. I needed to grieve her loss. God gave me a hymn in that dark hour. I sang those precious lyrics that Sunday morning:

“When peace, like a river, attends my way,

When sorrow like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

 ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”  

Horatio Spafford, a devastated father, composed those words as he mourned the tragic drowning of his four precious daughters. He comforted millions by his “song in the night.” (Job 35:10) Hymns remind us that our Christian brothers and sisters have lived lives of great faith. They encourage us.

Psalms are Scripture songs of praise. The five books of Psalms, written by ancient Jewish poets like David, Moses, Asaph and Solomon are cries for help, laments over Israel, or questions about God’s plan. The theme in all of them is worship. Even when the psalmist was crying out his questions or frustrations to the Lord, he usually ended with a call to praise God in spite of his circumstances.

Sing God’s very own words back to Him. God super-charges Scripture songs. Teach them to your kids. Pray them before you sleep.

My pastor-husband Roger and I had a remarkable experience worshipping God through the psalms. We met with one of our sound techs in the church sanctuary and casually planned to record Roger reading selected psalms. Roger asked me to accompany him on the piano as he spoke. The more psalms Roger read and the more I “played in the spirit,” the more God’s glory came down. His presence was so palpable, we recorded every word and note without a single retake. A hushed silence filled the air. I will never forget the afternoon we spent with the Shepherd as long as I live. Our CD, “A Shepherd’s Journey” is played in hospitals, nursing homes, battlefields, and mission fields. Psalms quiet and heal wounded hearts.

Finally, blessing God is a critical key in worshipful praying.

Blessing the Lord is not easy. David cried in Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” KJV

David, fleeing from Saul, feigned insanity before King Abimilech to save his own life. In David’s most humiliating, terrified moment, he vowed to bless the Lord constantly.

Job lost everything, and in the midst of his grief, he cried to God in Job 1:21-23:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes.  God’s name be ever blessed. MSG

Blessing God requires humility, discipline and complete surrender. My Mom and Dad knew how to bless God in every circumstance and He rewarded them richly. My parents grew up in poverty. Mom was the only child of an East Texas dirt farmer. Her philandering Dad married and divorced her heartbroken Mom three times. My Dad’s parents eked out a meager living. My granddad was a wounded vet, limping and gasping for air his whole life. When Dad was a child, he had to work to support his family.

I grew up in a cracker box house while my parents started a tiny construction business. Mom and Dad loved Jesus. Faithful churchgoers, they tithed every penny they made and gave to God’s work until it hurt. I always heard them bless the Lord in every circumstance. They never complained.

After sixty-seven years of marriage and a lifetime of thankfulness, my parents have given millions of dollars to Christ’s work. Dad, now 87 years young, declares, “Everything in my life, EVERYTHING, belongs to God. Now, who needs my money today?”

Bless the Lord. Sing to Him. Ignore the sound you make. Just make a joyful noise. Close your eyes. Picture Christ in the manger, at the cross and on the Throne. Pray worshipful prayers that reach God’s heart and transform yours.

For over twenty-five years, Dr. Julie Barrier has been in demand as a national and international conference speaker, addressing topics such as marriage and ministry, developing healthy relationships, biblical study, and women’s issues. She is the founder and director of the Preach It, Teach It website, providing sermons, devotionals, blogs, and videos by internationally renowned teachers and authors such as Francis Chan, Josh McDowell, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, David Ferguson, Jim Cymbala, Larry Osborne, Mark Batterson, Stanley Toussaint and many more. International resources are also offered in ten languages. Since its inception in June 2008, Preach It, Teach It has received more than five hundred thousand hits from 203 countries. For many years, Julie also taught Biblical Foundations of Worship, Conducting, and Arranging as an adjunct Professor at the Dixon School of Church Music at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She has served as a minister of worship, orchestra conductor, and arranger at Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Barrier has also performed as a concert artist and orchestra conductor. Dr. Barrier is the author or composer of over fifty published works: books, choral pieces, orchestral works, musical theater scripts, and journal articles. Her latest book is Bored in Big Church: Recollections of a Church Brat and Tattletale (Xulon Press, 2011). She and her husband, Roger, have two beautiful daughters and two sons-in-law.

Publication date: December 9, 2015