A few years ago, I helped to lead a training course for those who felt called to become Worship Leaders in the Methodist Church. These Worship Leaders would be expected to be able to lead any part of the service that wasn’t the sermon, including a kids talk and various kinds of prayers. One of the things I had to explain to the trainees was the difference between prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of adoration. Thanksgiving is about all that God has done for us, whereas adoration is about who He is. In the last couple months I’ve found another tool for understanding the ‘adoration’ part of prayer – appreciation.
I have recently been learning the Immanuel Approach to Prayer, based on the work and studies of Dr Karl Lehman. One of the first things you do in an Immanuel prayer session is to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a memory of when you were connected to Jesus in a special way. Sometimes it is a clear ‘God moment’ that comes up, but other times just a beautiful walk in the countryside, a stunning sunset or a fun time with friends.
Once the memory has been found and you have engaged with some of the positive sensations and emotions, then you are encouraged to speak out appreciation of Jesus. Initially I found it difficult. It was so easy to slip into little thank you prayers: ‘Thank You for the birdsong, thank You for the beauty of that place, thank You Jesus for…’ These thank you prayers are not wrong in themselves, but they keep the focus on me and what Jesus has done for me. But when I can change the language and thinking to focus on what that moment shows me about the character of Jesus and who He is, then it is like a new world opening up. ‘Jesus, I really appreciate Your thoughtfulness in having those wild flowers blooming exactly where I would notice them. Jesus, I love Your attention to detail and the way You care so deeply about every part of my life. Jesus, You are so kind and faithful.’
Every time I have engaged with this process of appreciation, I feel like my horizons have grown. I can appreciate the love and care of Jesus in so many new ways. I have developed new levels of understanding of His character, and I can feel that my ability to trust Him has increased as I learn more of His constancy and steadfastness. It has also breathed life into my Bible reading – particularly the gospels. As I read I can ask, ‘What do I appreciate about Jesus in this passage?’
Jesus, You are… faithful, true, perfect, forgiving, loving, helpful, kind, tender, patient, caring, all-knowing, holy, beautiful, thoughtful, unshakable, comforting… and I love You.
Why not give it a try now? Here are two different activities:
- Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a positive memory of when you were connected to Jesus in a special way. Enter in to the emotions and the feelings. Express out loud to Jesus your appreciation of all that memory shows you about His character (e.g. loving, kind, faithful, fun, strong, patient, powerful, sensitive)
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to a story about Jesus in the gospels. Express out loud to Jesus your appreciation of all the passage reveals to you about His character and who He is.
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