Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright. Praise the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. Psalm 33: 1-9 (NRSV)
Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing his praise from the ends of the earth! Isaiah 42:10 (CEB)
Valerie Bryant Bennett lives in Tennessee. One day she began her usual morning prayers. She prayed for her children's needs, her needs, and the needs of friends and family. Suddenly, a vivid image of a gumball machine popped into her head. As a child, Valerie enjoyed putting a coin in the slot, turning the handle, and having a colorful gumball fall into her hand. Valerie realized she had been praying as if she were inserting coins into a gumball machine. Almost all of her prayers were petitions, and Valerie was acting as though she expected God's answers to drop into her life like gumballs into her hand. While God is compassionate and willing to help us when we ask, Valerie realized she was taking for granted the wonders of creation, God's generous gifts, and the sacrifice Christ made for us.
Now when Valerie prays, she begins with praise. Instead of immediately thinking of what may be lacking in her life and the lives of her loved ones, she finds joy in first recognizing the amazing love and generosity of God. And she finds that when her "praise prayers" remind her of all that God has done, her "please prayers" come from a trusting, thankful heart.
Prayer: Dear Lord God, help us not to wait until we need something but to stay close to you at all times, expressing praise and trust, in Jesus' name. Amen.