“For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:18, NIV)
To have an effective conversation, both parties need to be willing to take turns listening and talking. Some of us are better listeners and some are better talkers, but if we are going to effectively communicate we’d better learn to do both – and do them well. When God speaks through His word we should pay attention. However, we can’t get the full effect of His presence unless we talk to Him. He wants to hear our prayers and is always ready to listen. He longs to hear about our good days and our bad ones. He wants us to ask Him for help and prove our love for others by praying for them. He knows our need to confess our sins so we can stand with a clean conscience and feel the freedom that brings. He desires thanks, praise, honor and glory.
To be completely open with you, that praising part used to bug me just a little when I was younger. It seemed a little odd that God would want us to spend so much time giving Him praise and honor when we’re not supposed to seek glory and honor for ourselves. Why did God want so much praise for himself?
Later, it hit me. Everything God asks of us is for our benefit – not His. By offering our praise to God we acknowledge His power and realize our complete dependence on Him. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Our praise becomes a marvelous life-cycle for the advancement of the kingdom.
By praising Him in prayer, we relinquish our self-centeredness. Praise helps us realize He is the One directing our steps and that direction can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Recognizing the mightiness of our God reinforces what an honor and privilege it is to be called His child. Accepting our inheritance of the Spirit allows us to feel empowered so we can live an honorable life. Then, by living a God-honoring life, the Spirit has room to decorate our lives with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. By humbly displaying those things in our lives, we naturally praise God for the results and our testimony becomes magnetic. That magnetism draws others into the process of learning more about the king of the universe. When they become His children they begin to experience the Spirit working in their lives. These new Christians are then able to recognize God’s majesty, accept their inheritance, display the fruit of the Spirit and radiate a powerful magnetism. As a result more people are drawn to God and the cycle of life keeps repeating.
Through this kind of praise, thanksgiving, requests and confessions we develop a more intimate relationship with the Spirit. So intimate in fact, that during intensely weak times of our lives, He feels what we’re feeling and is able to say the things we have a hard time expressing. Through good times and bad, prayer becomes the hotwire connecting the signal from God’s word to our Spirit-charged heart.