I’d like to show you how prayer, praise, and blessings are all connected. We all like blessings, right? Let’s take time to explore the very nature of God. Most of us have heard the fire and brimstone sermons about the judgment of God, right? Unfortunately, I heard about that side of God many years before I heard about His loving nature. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that nobody wants to pray to an angry God who they think is out to make everyone a crispy critter. Needless to say, that wouldn’t make anyone want to praise Him, either, unless it was simply out of fear of being sent to hell. And yet, that is the god I was first introduced to.

As a child, I didn’t go to church, nor did my parents. Later in life I found out my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family was a preacher. I never got to meet him because he died the year I was born. Yet neither of my parents had any interest in God whatsoever, and I found it odd that my dad never mentioned that he was the son of a preacher. Perhaps his dad introduced him to the God of hellfire and brimstone, and he didn’t want anything to do with Him. Can’t say that I blame him, really. That’s exactly what kept ME away from God as well. It turns out the devil did a pretty good job of keeping me deceived about the true nature of God. And I’m willing to bet he has done the same to you.

Is there a judgment side to God? Sure there is. He cannot and will not tolerate sin. The problem is, man’s nature is sinful, willfully doing those things that are against the very nature of God, and of course, that cuts us off from fellowship from God. But being cut off from fellowship with God was not God’s idea. It was the devil’s idea. When Adam and Eve were created and placed in the Garden of Eden, God had fellowship with them on a daily basis. There had been no sin yet, no separation between God and man. There was only ONE rule, and that was, Adam and Eve must leave the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil alone. They could freely eat of the fruit of every other tree, just not THAT tree. Fast forward an indeterminate period of time, the devil appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent, and we can pick it up in Genesis 3:1-13,

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
And that, my friends, was the beginning of all our sorrows, which resulted in fellowship between God and mankind being broken. That act of disobedience resulted in all the problems we have on this earth today. It wasn’t God’s idea for it to happen, it was the devil’s idea, and mankind fell for it.
But that bad beginning isn’t the end. God had a plan to restore that fellowship as if sin had never happened, even though it was going to take a while to orchestrate. People began once again to seek God, hoping to find and restore that broken fellowship. At some point, people began to pray to God, and offering Him sacrifices and praises, hoping to get on His good side, for they recognized the whole earth was under a curse because of sin.

God first spoke to the Hebrews, giving them Commandments and laws to live by. He also spoke through His prophets about a coming Savior, the one who would redeem them from their sins. Prayers of some of the people would go up, asking God to forgive their sins and accept their sacrifices, but not all worshipped the LORD. In fact, many worshipped false gods who were no gods at all, and we still have a lot of that going on today, thousands of years later. And yet, people are still wanting to be blessed and have a good life, so nothing has really changed, except NOW, we HAVE a Savior, for He has already come and made the only sacrifice that would satisfy God’s judgment against sin. The penalty for all the sins of all who have ever lived has been paid by Christ Jesus of Nazareth, Y’shua Messiah, with His own blood.

Here is where another factor comes into play. You see, God created mankind with “free will”, meaning we can choose for ourselves what we want to do. And that free will causes most people NOT to seek God, because they see serving God as encroaching on their freedom. Again, the devil has deceived people into thinking God wants to TAKE AWAY their freedom, instead of GIVING them freedom.

That’s where one of my favorite Psalms comes to mind, Psalm 103:1-5,
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth the with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with GOOD things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

What a JOY to find that He is really FOR us, and not AGAINST us. And for that, we have SO much to PRAISE Him for. And when we praise Him, we start seeing another side of Him we hadn’t seen before: and that is His BLESSINGS.

Here, all this time the devil works hard to separate us from God, and we find out that God not only wants us to know that He loves us, but that He wants us to have His blessings as well! How do we get in on the blessings? What would YOU do if there was someone you really wanted to meet? You would SEEK them, right?

Well, God is much easier to meet than some famous Hollywood movie star. All we have to do is cry out to Him in prayer, and He’s right there to listen. That would be your cue to offer Him thanks and praise for all He has done for you, and for providing Christ Jesus as the payment for all your sins. Like the Psalm says, Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

That’s the best place to start to get His attention, and once you have His attention, you have also found His heart, and His heart is full of love for you. He has a WONDERFUL plan for your life, and even a MORE wonderful plan for your eternal future. Now, THAT is something to shout “PRAISE THE LORD” about!