Monday, 17 November 2008

Praise and thanks

A gem from JI Packer and Carolyn Nystrom on a simple distinction that has helped me in my prayer life recently:

'It is helpful, in our praying, to make a distinction between praise and thanks, and to make sure we express both. Prayers of thanks tend to focus to some extent on us. We thank God for particular gifts given to us and others personally, and for general gifts bestowed on all. Praise, on the other hand, focuses directly on God. We praise him because of who and what he is. It is the difference between one spouse saying to the other, "You are the most understanding person I know; that's one reason I love you so much" and "Thanks for the sandwich; I needed it." Both kinds of prayers are appropriate. But because we are naturally self-centred creatures, we tend to major on thanks, because God's gifts and mercies to us constantly fill our minds. Yet God himself is to be praised, for he is supremely praiseworthy. "Praise to the LORD! For it is good to sing praises our God; for he is beautiful, and a song of praise is fitting." (Psalm 147:1). "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD." (Psalm 150:6). So it is good and right to occasionally wrestle our attention away from ourselves and turn it toward God in prayers of praise.' (Praying, IVP, p. 31-32).

I've been trying to put this into practice recently. So Maurice and Sarah (via the Ferndale website) have both commented on last week's University of Cumbria FREE outreach. There's plenty to give thanks for: good numbers at events, great gospel partnership and the gospel's effect seen in the lives of both Christians and non-Christians. But perhaps above all we should be praising the Lord that he's the sort of God who wants relationship with creatures like us, that he's the sort of God that comes not to be served but to serve, and to sort of God who accepts us if only we admit that we are ill and sinful and have nothing to offer, and approach him as children. What a beautiful character he has! "Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise."

1 comment:

sarahdawkins said...

Thanks for that Pete, really challenging but so true . . .have even quoted you on my blog!!!