PRAYER IS PRAISE AND WORSHIP

Possibly the most frequent and extensive expression of prayer in the Bible is that of worship – the praise and adoration of God.

The first biblical report where a human is said to worship God is Genesis 22:5. Here Abraham told his servants to wait while he and his son Isaac continued up Mount Moriah to ‘worship’. In this context Abraham’s ‘worship’ – the offering of a burnt sacrifice to God – was completed by God’s provision of a substitutionary sacrifice.

The first biblical report of a human is said to praise God is Genesis 29:35, where Leah named her last born son ‘Judah’, which sounds like, or is derived from, the Hebrew word for ‘praise’. As she named him, she said ‘This time I will praise the LORD.’ This son, Judah, a great-grandson of Abraham, is one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ – the Lion of Judah.

It is instructive that the circumstances of both of these ‘firsts’ in praise and worship are prophetic of Jesus Christ, through whom, and because of whom, human worship and praise of God is rendered both possible and acceptable. Similarly, the last expression of praise and worship in the Bible is also focused on what God has accomplished through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God:

‘Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ [Revelation 19:6-8]

Without the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah [Revelation 5:5,6] none of our praise and worship – none of our praying - is acceptable to God. But by his blood the slain Lamb, the conquering Lion of Judah –

‘ ... purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation’ making them ‘a kingdom and priests to serve our God ...’ [Revelation 5:9,10], who ‘are before the throne of God and serve (= ‘worship’) him day and night in his temple’ [Revelation 7:15].

Through Jesus Christ, and only through him, we ‘have access to the Father’ [Ephesians 2:18]. By his mediation we have absolute confidence that we are not only permitted, but also qualified, to enter into the presence of the holy God [Colossians 1:12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22]. The praise and worship in the presence of God that is prohibited by our sin [Psalm 24:3,4] is permanently possible and permanently permitted because Jesus Christ, the ‘King of glory’ [Psalm 24:7-10] has entered into the presence of God on our behalf as our representative.  

In Christ, and only in Christ, are human sinners admitted into the presence of God. In Christ those who believe in him have present and permanent access to the Father. Indeed, as Paul explains,

‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’ [Ephesians 2:6].

‘... you have been raised with Christ ... your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ [Colossians 3:1,3].

In Christ, we join today in the praise offered by the four living creatures –

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come’ [Revelation 4:8].

Because of Christ, we today repeat the worship of the twenty-four elders –

‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power ...’ [Revelation 4:11].

To Christ, we join today in the praise of the myriads of angels –

‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain ...’ [Revelation 5:12],

And today we add our voices to those of every creature in the universe –

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honour and glory and power for ever and ever!’ [Revelation 5:13].

If you are lost for words, if you don’t know how to express the praise and worship that you feel in your heart, use these expressions of worship from Revelation. And go to the Psalms. There are 150 Psalms. Of them, 135 contain clear expressions of praise, adoration and worship. In many of these the worship is powerful and concentrated. Through these Psalms you can engage in this aspect of prayer and joyfully express your adoration of God.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2016