If you follow my blog, you've already read about my Praise Patterns book, but tomorrow I'm introducing it at Bible study. I will say something like this.
If someone gave you a love note or a beautiful Valentine, would your first response to that person be a list of chores you need help with?
Think about this for a minute: you probably have a love note on your bookshelf. It's not covered in lace or ribbons. It's your Bible--God's message of love to you.
I've been realizing that I read this precious love note from God, and I respond to Him with only a list of my needs and concerns. Now of course, I do need His help! And He does care about my concerns! But He deserves to hear my praise and thanksgiving.
I looked for a pattern for praise, an example to echo, and I found a beautiful prayer in the book of Luke. You probably hear it every Christmas. It's Mary's prayer and it begins “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...” That's what praise is all about: proclaiming the greatness of God.
As I read Mary's prayer, I saw that she knew God. If I want to praise Him more frequently, I need to know Him better. I kept studying the prayer and I saw ten names of God that Mary either mentioned directly or suggested: My Savior, My Exceeding Joy, the Faithful God... Using one of these names not only expands your knowledge of God, but sets the tone of your prayer; it's like finding just the perfect beginning for a love letter.
I researched these names of God, and I organized each chapter to include the way God proclaimed His name in the Old Testament, an example of Jesus showing us His name in action in the New Testament, and God's call to us to respond to His name. God asks us to praise Him not just with our words but with our actions and our lives. This is not just a study about prayer and praise: it's a study about following God.
As usual for my studies, there's a hymn in each chapter, and a list of recordings of the hymns that you can download if you want to. This study also has something new: a list of contemporary songs that go with each chapter; you can choose to download a soundtrack to help you meditate on the week's lesson while you wash your dishes or drive your car.
Each chapter also has a poem or a quotation from a historical or modern Christian to give us further patterns for praise.
Each chapter has four days of study, about ten minutes of reading each day.
I also have a new option for those of you who like a seven day a week study—if you want a little more homework—I have a plan for that too.
I also set up a private online chat forum for anyone who wants to discuss the book during the week, or anyone who knows they'll be gone for a week or two but still wants to be included in the discussion. This is another optional part of the study.
I am excited to see who God brings to this class; whoever you are, I've been praying for you for a year and asking the Lord to make this study relevant and helpful to you.