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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

why I think praise is more important than prayer

As controversial my posts may be, I think this one might be the most controversial to date. I want to make it very clear that this is not my conclusions about theology nor am I saying God considers praise to be more important than prayer. The last thing I want to do is have people stray away from the truth. This is more of an opinion piece after some reflection my personal behavior when it comes to praise and prayer, which I consider to be the two pillars of our communication and relationship building with God.


Something that I've become hyper aware of as a byproduct of my commitment to finish the Bible from start to end this year for the first time in my life is the fact that the world is about God (or Jesus), not us. In some ways this may be obvious, but I think current day Christianity and Sunday School practices in general place a high concentration on us as individuals and how much God loves us. While all of that is true, the Bible is about God's brilliance and his omnipotence as well as the perfection and might of Jesus Christ. Again and again, God shows through the people he has selected that nothing is done through human effort and we are nothing without Him. Even as you acknowledge this factually, I think it's hard for human beings to admit to this wholeheartedly, as we inherently believe we are mighty and our results are a direct result of our efforts. That's why often times I'm relieved when things don't go my way, especially when I place effort into something and it doesn't produce the result I expected, because if it did and continued to do so then I don't think I'd (1) need God anymore (2) recognize his existence.


Back to my controversial title - through the way that most traditional and even non-traditional Church services are structure, there's a far more "serious" tone associated with prayer - we're taught at a very early age that prayer is our communication line with God, encouraged to "pray about it" when we face adversities and it's during the heated moments of retreat prayer that people ask for forgiveness and cry with their friends (arms length apart if you're with a sister). While praise can definitely be a blessed time (I actually want to go into what blessed time exactly means in another post as I think this phrase gets thrown around), it functions more as a check in the box as a sort of pregame or post-game to the sermon. I'm sure you've played praise in the car as background music or blasted it on your speakers when you felt anxious, but I'd assume the times you've turned to prayer in times of trouble (especially in isolation) far outweighs the number of times you've sang How Great is Our God by yourself.


I don't fault anyone for this (I do this myself) and it's quite logical. By the very words describing the activities themselves, prayer is loosely defined as an "earnest wish," where we are professing what we want. While prayer in its foundations, at least to my knowledge, is not only a one way form of communication where we tell God our wish list and He picks what he wants to fulfill, it has become that way. I partly blame our religious culture of turning to God only when we need Him as well as our hyper focus on Christianity as a means of ending suffering. On the contrary, praise is by definition a means of worship - it's to declare that God is great and almighty and to profess that there's no one like Him. In fact, all of praise (theoretically) is solely centered around God, and while the relationship we have with Him could be a reflection of his might, it's never about us ourselves.


This is where I find that praise, at least in the lens I'm looking at it, is more important prayer because the medium almost forces you to recognize the most important part of what I think is Christian worldview - the fact that God is great, He is in control, and it should be our mission to grow by obeying Him. Prayer often deters from this thought path and becomes a sob story of how our life is rough, everything is coming down at once and while God definitely is open ears and is there for us, this often takes the wrong path of focusing on ourselves instead of God. I am saying all this as a prime example of what I'm criticizing, as I often (if not always) catch myself during prayer to go down a path of just listing out what's wrong with my life and forgetting that I'm trying to communicate with a being that theoretically knows everything I'm about to say and is in full control. Even in worldly perspective, if all you used another person for was to list out your problems for the day without acknowledging their ability to help, it'd be better to talk to a chatbot instead.


Once again, it is not my intent to denounce prayer nor to say that those who talk about their problems in prayer are doing it wrong. I also want to note that prayer can be a form of praise (if we were to make a simple distinction that praise involves a melody and prayer doesn't). However, I do think it's important to recognize our tendency to fall into a negative Nancy spree during our sit down, close our eyes and hold our hands together times with God while merely repeating the familiar words and tunes during "Hosanna." Let me know if you have any praise recommendations on Apple Music.

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