Each and every one of us has a part to play in God’s orchestra of prayer. What is your special sound? What instrument do you play? The Holy Spirit directs the movements of this divine symphony according to the score of God’s Word.
I have identified twelve distinct “sounds” that come forth in the orchestra of prayer. How many of these sounds are part of your prayer arsenal?
Prayers of thanksgiving are like the first movement in a symphony. They open the way to a concert of worship and intercession. The psalmist declares, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4 NASB), and that is what we do. That is what happened for the grateful leper in Luke 17:11-19.
According to Old Testament law, lepers were supposed to declare, “Unclean! Unclean!” wherever they went (see Leviticus 13:45), and they were expected to stay away from other people. But ten lepers approached Jesus for healing. Nine of them continued on their way, incredulous and in high spirits. But one turned around and came back to express his thanks directly to the rabbi whose power had healed him. He is the one whose thankful heart opened the way to more liberty, joy, and healing. The others were cleansed—but he was made whole. Jesus told him, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:19 KJV). Thanksgiving is an important quality of a healthy, whole person.
2. High Praise
What follows “Enter His gates with thanksgiving…”? It is “…and [go into]His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4 NASB). Thanksgiving and praise are not quite the same thing. There is a progression. First, we thank God for His goodness: “For the Lord is good” (verse 5). Then, we praise Him for His greatness: “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised”(Psalm 48:1). Always remember that praise is one of the highest weapons of spiritual warfare. Praise opens prison doors and sets the captives free.
Following thanksgiving and praise, we move into heartfelt worship. Despite the fact that I am comparing these aspects of prayer to instruments in an orchestra, in reality, worship pertains less to music—which is how we tend to think of it in a contemporary church context—and more to an inner attitude of the heart. To worship is to bow down, to kneel, to prostrate oneself.
We might begin with joyful shouting, as Psalm 95 encourages us in its first few verses, because God is so great. Our expressions of praise, which can be chosen as an act of the will, may then lead us into heartfelt worship as the ultimate expression of surrender to God. Worship, according to the first point of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, is “the chief end of man.” It is foundational to our faith, with or without audible musical notes.
4. Dedication (Consecration)
Building on what has come before, we present ourselves to God. We “present [our] bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1 NASB). This enables us to enter into the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in John 17 as we are set apart for the Lord and sanctified. He prayed to the Father, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19 NASB).
Our prayers of consecration are a lovely sound to the Lord’s ears. He loves to hear “saving grace” prayers, too, but our dedication and consecration prayers show Him that we know we are not our own, that we were bought with a price. “I surrender all” resounds from the orchestra of prayer. Jesus Christ is our Master and Lord!
5. Prayers of Commitment
As we progress, our prayers of dedication and consecration lead to prayers of commitment, and we say, as the psalmist did, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth”(Psalm 31:5). As we commit ourselves to Him, we rest in faith-filled trust. He will take care of us, down to the smallest detail of our lives. “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you” (Psalm 37:5 NLT).
Committing is an act; trust is an attitude. Whenever your load becomes too heavy, you cast your burden onto the Lord. (See 1 Peter 5:7.) You commit it to Him. And then you leave it with Him; you trust Him with it. You give it and then leave it.
6. Prayers of Petition
Many times, we pray simple prayers of petition in addition to prayers of commitment. We can expect each of our prayers to be answered—if they line up with the will of God. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). I like to say it this way: God came up with the original “World Wide Web.” His “WWW” consists of His will, His Word, and His ways.
When you pray, do you ask the Bible way? “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). This does not mean that you will have everything you fervently desire, but that you will align your desires with His as you walk in increasing holiness.
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