Having grown up in the Church, I’m fairly familiar with the helps that people have developed in order to deeper our relationship with or understanding of God. The A.C.T.S. acrostic (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) for prayer, or the song of the New Testament books, are tools to help a Christian in their walk. However, a tool is only useful if you know how to use it and one of the things that I have struggled with in my Christian life is how to properly adore God in my prayers. It was fairly easy to understand what it meant to confess my sin and to enumerate the reasons I have for thanksgiving, and it was no problem at all to list off my requests, but I struggled with simply articulating the attributes of God to God. After all, He knew Who He was, so what was the point in me telling me? What value did my praise add?
Until one day I paid close attention to how some girls in our church’s college ministry interacted with each other. If you’re with them long enough, you realize that it’s hard to have more than a 5-minute conversation without compliments flying back and forth. “You’re beautiful.” “You’re funny.” “I’m so blessed by you.” Some of them even greet each other with words of praise as they call each other “Gorgeous” or other such complimentary monikers. They do this, I can only surmise, because they want their friend, and others, to realize how much they value them. They want their friend to know that they are aware of what a gift they are, and that they do not take their innumerable qualities for granted. They want to properly set the stage for the rest of their interactions.
This simple awareness changed my thinking of what it meant to praise God. In praising Him, I’m acknowledging Who He is and properly setting my heart in preparation for the rest of our interactions. I’m stating how all-together different He is from me, and how Who He is has radically impacted my life. I’m letting Him know that I rightly realize what a gift He is, and that it is only because of Who He is that I am talking to Him at all – His grace and love have made that prayer possible. When I considered my praise as my compliments, it not only helped me understand why they are important, but it made it easier to articulate the reasons I adore God.
I’ll admit, it’s weird to think of giving God compliments. He doesn’t need them, and it’s not the nomenclature that I learned as a kid. But it is helpful. Because I know what it means to praise others through compliments; I see the value of articulating what is good and valued in them, and there’s no one more worthy of praise than God.