Have you ever prayed a prayer of adoration? Or do you include adoration in your daily prayers? Adoration is not a common word in today’s vocabulary. Like the word gratitude, adoration is a word that we do not hear often enough concerning our relationship with God. Adoration is best defined as an attitude of worship that is characterized by love and reverence. For the Christian that attitude of worship is to be expressed toward the triune God in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Anything else usually leads to idolatry and false gods. Something that occurs to frequently in our post-modern culture.
Richard Foster devotes an entire chapter to the prayer of adoration in his 1992 book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. In the opening of this chapter Foster writes: “Prayer is the human response to the perpetual outpouring of love by which God lays siege to every soul. When our reply to God is most direct of all, it is called adoration. Adoration is the spontaneous yearning of the heart to worship, honor, magnify, and bless God.” [italics are author’s]
Foster writes that the prayer of adoration includes two parts, thanksgiving and praise. We give thanks to God for what God has accomplished as well as what God is accomplishing. And we praise God just for who God is. Thus, the prayer of adoration is a prayer where we come for no other purpose but to respond in gratitude to the magnificence of God.
This probably sounds like a right and good thing for all of us to do. And we might think that we do it to some degree or another. For me at least, it is not always an easy prayer to pray. The problem is that I get in the way. That is to say that I have a difficult time putting my worries and my concerns, and even my faults aside just to be grateful and adoring before God. Part of my morning devotion and prayer time includes using the Bible, especially the Psalms to encourage an attitude of worship of love and reverence for our divine Lord. At the end of these readings, I give pause to offer up my own words in adoration. And that is when I appear again. That is when I realize my own failings, when my concerns for the day appear, when I struggle to think only of our loving God that gives all glory to God.
And then Foster offers through C.S. Lewis in Letters to Malcom three obstacles to the prayer of adoration. First, is inattention. All of us are guilty as charged, for we live busy lives consumed by our rush of life at us. This is the trouble I wrote about above. The second obstacle is the wrong kind of attention. When we look at the world or the Word we immediately attempt to break it down into smaller parts, rather than to just observe and offer up a doxology of praise. Thirdly, greed is an obstacle to adoration. Our desire that can not be sated, focuses on wanting more of the same, rather than reflecting on what God has given.
Foster, rightly, writes that prayer of adoration must be learned. We, child and adult alike, need to be taught to stop asking for things, and to be grateful and adoring of our God’s unceasing love. The “stepping-stones” that lead us to the prayer of adoration begin with our daily lives. It begins when we pay attention, studying without analyzing, the natural environment right out your door. Do not evaluate it, but just notice it. Nothing more, nothing less – just stop a moment and notice. Another stepping-stone is the use of the Psalter, or Book of Psalms. In the Psalms you will find a great number of words of thanksgiving and praise to God, magnifying God with great sweeping descriptions of the magnificence of the Lord. The third stepping-stone recommended by Foster is to celebrate. He calls for an out right jubilant celebration that is “joyous, hilarious, foot-stomping.” It is something that is done both in community and alone.
So my prayer for you this week is that you find thanksgiving and praise in your heart and can begin the life-long journey towards a prayer of adoration that frames all of your other prayers. May you, celebrate with boldness God. Amen