Prayer Is Worship
Lord God, we are here to worship You. Great is Your name, and You are worthy of our greatest praise! As we assemble for worship, send Your Holy Spirit to sanctify our hearts and strengthen our faith. Through the Word we hear enlighten our souls to a better understanding of Your Truth. Encourage us on life’s way and give us boldness to be Your witnesses. Hear our prayers and answer them according to Your gracious good will. Amen.
Abraham had a desire to respond to the Lord’s grace and worship Him. Abraham recognized the value and importance of worship. So wherever his journeys led him, Abraham built an altar and called upon the name of the Lord.
Today’s text takes us back to the days of the Kingdom of Israel. David is on the throne and they have just brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem and placed it in the tabernacle. On the day of that occasion we read:
Text: I Chronicles 16:7-13
On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord: Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth, O seed of Israel His servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
In Christ Jesus, our living Savior who has set us free from our sins and gives us so much cause for worship, dear fellow-redeemed, dear confirmands:
Worship is a two-way communication. In worship God speaks to His people through His Word. His people respond through their prayers.
Our typical worship service is very much a back-and-forth between God to us and us to God. We begin with a hymn of praise addressed to God. We go to God confessing our sins. He speaks to us through the authority Christ gives to His church on earth, assuring us that those sins are indeed forgiven. We respond with praise back heavenward for His marvelous mercy. We hear God speak through His Word. We take our prayers and supplications to God. Through all of this we worship as we take part in the communication back and forth from our Savior and back to Him.
Prayer—our communication to God—is one half of the back-and-forth communication of worship. Prayer is Worship. Prayer is much broader than just asking for something. It has been said that prayer ACTS—A-C-T-S. Prayer ACTS and each letter represents an element of what is involved in our prayer life.
Adoration is perhaps the most recognizable aspect of prayer in worship. We often think of worship as our praise to God. In fact, “worship” and “praise” are often used together (including a section of hymns in our hymnal). The psalm which David wrote on the occasion of the Ark of the Covenant coming to Jerusalem is definitely filled with adoration. “Sing to Him!…Sing Psalms to Him!…Talk of all His wondrous works!…Glory in His name!…Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!” The praise simply flows from David to his pen and into written Scripture.
Adoration—why? We sang of the reasons for adoration in our first hymn this morning: How Great Thou Art! Adoration and praise belong to God because who else could create the wonderful world in which we live—wonderful in spite of being tainted by sin? On a beautiful, sun-drenched, spring morning when things have turned a wonderful shade of green, whom should we praise and adore if not the One who made it? Praise and adoration to God for all of His creation! That is our prayer. Any adoration—sung or spoken—is a prayer to God and worship of the highest order.
But as our opening hymn also said, our adoration is not just because of what God has made. As remarkable as God’s creation is, even more amazing is His mercy which led the Creator God to sacrifice His Son; which led the almighty, holy God who made heaven and earth to say to sinners who had rebelled against him, “I love you. I will send My Son to redeem you.” Adoration and praise be to God for his remarkable salvation!
David says, “Talk of all his wondrous works.” [v.9] As we share the Gospel with others and tell them about all that God has done, that too is adoration.
Prayer is worship and part of that prayer is giving praise to God for all that He has done and continues to do for us.
We confessed our sins earlier in the worship service. Confession is also a vital part of worship, also a part of our prayer-life. Confession is worship because as we come confessing our sins we are acknowledging our helplessness. We are acknowledging our failures in living up to God’s standard. We come humbly confessing our sins but also with the knowledge that God has provided salvation. We come as sinners in need of help. We come to God as sinners in need of forgiveness and redemption. Coming in this way is worship because by doing this we are acknowledging: “You, Lord, are the God of mercy and grace and hope. I come confessing my sins to You knowing that through Christ Jesus you will forgive me.”
When David saw the Ark of the Covenant coming into Jerusalem, He knew the Lord God as the God who gave His law on the two tablets of stone that were kept in the Ark; but He also knew about the blood of the sacrifices that had been sprinkled on the Mercy Seat of the Ark. He knew that blood would continue to be sprinkled until the fulfillment of what it represented. He knew the blood on the Mercy Seat of the Ark that was entering Jerusalem was a picture of something greater. He knew that one day God would fulfill His promises and the blood of the Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world! (cf. John 1:29).
Thanksgiving is an important part of prayer. David began his song on that day, “Oh give thanks to the Lord!” [v.8]
As we consider all of the reasons to adore and praise God, we also have every reason to give thanks. All of the remarkable things that God does—the things that merit all of the honor and glory we could give—those same things He does for us. They bring blessings to us. Therefore, give thanks to the Lord for all that He gives day by day. This includes even trusting Him enough to give thanks for the troubles He allows to come into our lives. Even in sorrow and troubles we can give thanks to God by understanding that He will use even these difficulties for our blessing. After losing nearly everything he had, Job said: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord…shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 1:21, 2:10).
Finally, supplication is part of our prayer life. David wrote saying, “Call upon His name…” [v.8] “Calling upon” God’s name can refer to worship in general, but God also teaches us to specifically apply it to calling upon Him in our needs for He says: “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15).
On the day the Ark of the Covenant came into Jerusalem it may have seemed almost as if there would never be a reason to ask for anything, because how could David and the people ever be happier? How could their lives be more full than with knowing that the Ark was back in the tabernacle and in the Capital, Jerusalem? What great joy! David called upon the people to rejoice, saying, “Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!” [v.10]
But the joy wouldn’t last forever. The people of Israel still lived as sinners in a sinful world afflicted by the effects of sin. Similarly, we may reach a pinnacle of joy in praising our God, but we leave God’s house and find that the business of daily life together with temptation drain our joy, and we find that we have desperate needs.
God wants us to bring those needs to Him in our prayers. We come before God as humble supplicants, asking him to supply our needs of body and of soul, for troubles we are facing—anything and everything! Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). When it comes to our supplications in prayer, nothing is too big, nothing is too small; nothing is too important, nothing is too trivial. Jesus says, “Come. Pray. Ask, and the Father will give it to you according to His will” (cf. John 14:13).
In our typical order of service for worship, there are two places in which we offer supplication to God. Early in the service, prior to the Scripture readings, we pray the prayer of the day. This prayer is sometimes referred to as the Collect because in it are collected the prayers of all Christians. It is a general prayer at that point in the worship service and is such that it could be prayed by any Christian at any place. It is a general prayer for the whole Church of God and is usually tied to the theme of that day’s worship service.
Following the sermon we offer another general prayer of supplication, but it has more specific supplications as they would apply to our congregation in the light of the Word of God we have just heard. At times this prayer also includes specific supplications for individuals—we will include two such supplications in our prayer this morning.
Prayer is worship. As we approach God with our hymns and our spoken prayers, they involve adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication; but in all things we are acknowledging Him as our Lord and Savior, the God of our salvation. Amen.
—Pastor Wayne Eichstadt