“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” Jonah 2:9

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A few years ago I was training for a marathon. When I started training I mapped out how I was going to get to a point where I could run the 26.2 miles without passing out halfway through.
Each day I worked towards my end goal of 26.2 miles, adding on more mileage and taking breaks in-between long distance runs.
It was painful somedays, and I felt pretty inadequate on most, but in the end I knew if I trained and worked on it each day, I would get to where I wanted to be.
I also knew that if I didn’t train, and I just ran every so often, come race day, I would probably become exhausted quite easily.
I remember when I first starting taking prayer seriously, I didn’t really know where to start. I felt like prayer was super easy for everyone else, but for some reason was hard for me.
For a while I put it off even though I knew it was a practice that would enrich my relationship with God, as well as something that He calls us to do all throughout the Bible.
Just like training to run a marathon, training your prayer life is important.
When you first start training for a marathon you feel extremely weak, and clumsy. But as you practice repetition, you start to get stronger, develop new muscle mass, agility, and determination.
Prayer is quite similar.
At first it might seem a little mundane to you, but as you continue to pray each day you will watch as your prayer life comes alive.
There are many different ways to pray, but here is what helped me when I started taking prayer seriously.
When I finally decided to get to the bottom of this whole prayer thing, I started by keeping track of my prayers with a journal.
I would section it off into three sections: praise, repentance, and requests.
Today we will talk about praise, and the other two on Wednesday and Thursday.
What does it mean to pray praises?
Prayer, like all practices in life, is something that needs to be practiced! Naturally, saying “thank you” is not the easiest thing for humans. Think about it, we basically had to be reminded to say it multiple times a day as children. But as we practiced saying “thank you” so it became a more natural statement.
The same goes for prayers of praise. The more you practice praising God, the more you will naturally be inclined to look towards Him in all things.

The Praises List…

Each morning when I wake up I make a list of “praises.” Some days this is super easy, and I can easily fill a page, but then other days I feel like I have nothing to put on the list.
Some days this list consists of things like “my dad, dark chocolate, and sunshine” or it says “my new job” while other days it just looks like “God.”
Even on days where you feel like nothing is going right, there are still plenty of things to be grateful for. Making a praises list doesn’t just help you organize your prayers, but it also begins each day with a grateful heart.
Often times it’s easy for us to get caught up in the chaos of life, and it’s important to take time and reflect on the goodness that God has given you.
One of my favorite Psalms to read when I feel like I have nothing to praise God about is Psalm 100:1-4. It reads:
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful song. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
In verse 1, we are first told to “shout for to the Lord,” which means we should joyfully praise Him while verse 2 reminds us that we should approach Him with gladness and with a joyful song.
When praying prayers of praise, we should pray with joyfulness and gladness in our hearts. 
Verse 3 takes a moment to remind us why we are singing praises to God – because He is our King! He made us, He formed us, He loves us, so of course we should be inclined to praise Him!
Verse 4 commands us to give Him praise and thanksgiving, by singing His name. We should spend time in prayer focused on praising Him, and His name for He has given us everything!
Lastly, in verse 5, we are told to praise God because of His eternal love for us.
Each one of these verses works as a reminder as to why we should spend time praising God each day.
If you feel like you have no praises to be prayed, just read out loud Psalm 100. It might even remind you of all the things you have to be thankful for.
You can read “There Is No Formula For Prayer” from yesterday HERE

Thoughts For The Day

Is prayer something you practice each day? If not, why not?
Make a praise list this morning! What are you thankful for today?  Pray through this list, thanking God for each one.

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