I saw something by pure chance recently, and it blew my mind. I found out that it was not easy for me to sustain a decision to praise God and ask for nothing, every day for a number of days. I mean, this looked so simple. In a sense, it seemed even easier to praise than to ‘pray’. So for the purpose of this writing, we will consider praise to be those exercise that focus on thanking God for what things He has done, or add worship to that, praising Him for who He is, and we will consider ‘prayer’ as those communication exercise with God that involves us making requests of Him or fighting our enemies. Now, I put prayers in inverted commas because in the strictest definition of the terms, worship and praise are part of prayer. So if we agree with that definition, then let me say that the one I challenged myself to do was worship and praise-mainly praises, with the condition that I will not request anything of God for the period of that exercise. Men and brethren, it turned out to be a herculean task. Well for starters, it was more like energy sapping because I wanted to do the high praise type, and I also know that I do not know many of those types of songs as I am the type that prefers slower, deep-running meditative songs. But I solved that problem by employing YouTube to help me out whenever it was time for our praise appointment.
Then the second challenge, dancing. I am not much of a dancer, but I considered that God takes any good sacrifice that is from a pure heart, even if the dance steps were badly done. But I was surprised when I saw myself feeling awkward that I was dancing alone, in the middle of the night. What was I doing like a ‘kolomenatal?’ I would not have thought that this was a challenge to overcome, the challenge of overcoming my awkwardness for dancing alone in the house, especially dancing on purpose and not as some random act. Then there was the third challenge, I was running out of gas. My dance steps were finishing too quickly, but the greater challenge was that I was getting tired of ‘jumping like an antelope’, to borrow the words of the revered Bishop Oyedepo. Aah! So praising and dancing could be this tiring and energy sapping? Who would have thought! How long can you last dancing alone before God?
There was a fourth challenge, maybe the greatest of them all. Whenever the dancing and praises reached a peak and I felt the atmosphere charged like God has come to inhabit the praise, I see myself rising to cash into the opportunity and make my most pressing requests known to God. You know this kind of feeling, like you have been seeking for the attention of a benefactor to pitch an idea or make a request. Each time you get to talk to them, it seems something distracts it and dilutes the solemnness of the moment. You just know that somehow, it didn’t end with the severity with which you wanted to talk him. Then one fateful day, you finally get to ride with the all-important man alone in his car. A driver is driving you guys, so none of you is on the wheels, actually, just two of you at the back seat. To make the moment more beautiful, he cracks a good natured joke, confirming to you that he is in the best of mood for you to strike now, and you cash in and start to pitch your matter. In your mind, for the first time, I have this man’s undivided attention. That was the kind of situation I found myself in. Whenever it seemed that God had finally rent heaven to come and inhabit my praise, that nudge goes, ‘Tell Him now!’ This is funny isn’t it? You know this is the point our Pentecostalism comes in and we coat it with all kinds of Holy Ghost speak; ‘I had a Holy Ghost nudge to speak’, ‘the Holy Spirit led it in my heart to deal with that matter at that point in time’, ‘my faith rose very high at that point that I had to address the issue’ etc etc. I am here to tell you that if you fell for it, you were actually displaying unbelief. Disembark the ride on Pentecostal holy speak.
And of course the fifth matter I will deal on here is the war going on in my mind. It has been said that praise is a warfare tool, I agree. So you can employ praise to get God to do more for you or fight your war like He did for Jehoshaphat and the kingdom of Judah, but you can be so focused on the anticipated outcome of the praise that you would have only been trying to bribe God instead of praise Him truly because He is good and his mercies endures forever. You know that the devil is the master of the sense realm, and that is where many believers lose a lot of wars. So the devil helps to make sure that your mind is solely focused on the needs you want God to meet and not just thank Him for those He has met. You keep your needs open before you, all the while you were gyrating before God, hoping that you are moving your body eagerly enough for Him to see it and grant you your unspoken wishes. There is of course nothing wrong in even writing out your needs and placing them before you while you dance to God with faith that they will be met, but I have found out that the key to giving the Lord your burden entirely is that you must roll it over and forget that they were ever yours. This will mean that while you dance, you must dance with a knowing in your spirit soul and body that the burden has been taken from you. This is the key to praising without having the needs being conscious in your mind. This is not a very easy task as I can also confirm from my experience, but it is something that must be done to achieve a system that truly gives praise to God and not just sing and dance while your burden is all the time hanging over your mind.
An old hymn says that we often forfeit the peace that could be ours because we do not hand over everything in prayer to God, but I also add that we forfeit even much more, because we have not learnt how to believe God. If you read Mathew 6:25-33, the import of what Jesus said there is that God knows all the needs we have! You know, God invites us to ask, but it is not because He does not know about them, but because He wants us to participate in the process. Your asking is supposed to be your willing acknowledgement of His ability and also a formal handover of the matter to Him. You are to hence stop worrying about it that is if you have faith enough that He has heard and is both capable and willing to do. Verse 32 of that passage says; …’for your father knows that you have need of these things’. Actually prayer for needs should be as casually as; ‘father thank you because I know you know my needs and have taken care of them’. Most of our additions and gyrations and repetitions are the products of unbelief and fear. 1 Peter 5:7: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
So I ask you, can you stand to praise? In my challenge, I decided I was not going to ask Him to bless my day, protect my children, give me and my family food, pray for my job, pray for the things I needed, ask for favour with business or anything, take care of needs coming, I even said I was not going to ask for help with spiritual growth, spiritual needs of all kinds etc. I will only praise Him, remembering only the things He has done and asking for nothing whatsoever. Of course that will warrant me trusting absolutely that He knows my every need, from spiritual to physical and is capable and caring enough to meet them without my asking. I did not succeed very well initially, but I discovered that I keep on getting better as the days go by. I made an observation recently also by watching and interacting with people around; so many christains cannot go an hour of praise and worship without plugging in request. Do you know that song that we sing that if all our bodies were mouths, it will not be enough to praise God? We were only being smart. God knows that we are not even using this one mouth enough. Or the other one we sing that eternity will not be enough for us to praise God? Think again. A priest once entered a church where I was worshipping to minister. He challenged us to call God sweet names for 15 minutes. By the 5th minute, we were all muttering things under our breath, there was no more sweet things to say to the one love of our lives.
So here is my challenge to you. From today till the end of the year, take a challenge to thank and praise God-only thanks, praise and worship, and ask for nothing, absolutely nothing. See how you will fair. After all, in heaven, we will not be making requests, only praising, would it be a bad idea to start practicing now? You may wish to communicate your experiences with me as you go on.