What (besides God) makes you say WOW?
Take a second before you dig in to have group members make a quick list. Set the timer for 60 seconds and have members write as many things as they can think of. Whoever lists the most wow-inspiring things wins. A prize is recommended. :)
Share your lists.
How do you feel in your gut when the topic of prayer comes up? Why?
Is your prayer life what you want it to be? If so, share your practices (Show us your ways!) and/or tell a story or two about what prayer looks like for you. If not, what do you feel like you're missing? What's standing between you and better, healthier prayer?
This week we're talking about praising God. What does it mean to praise something? Other than God, do you praise anything? What? (BTW It's totally fine to praise lots of things.) What do you say?
What does praising God look like for you? What praise practices you you have?
When are you most likely to praise God? When are you most unlikely?
On Sunday we said praising God requires looking at God. You have to see Him to appreciate Him. What can we do practically speaking to see God more often and more clearly?
This week you're encouraged to read the following scripture out loud and together (You might want to just read the first few verses together and then take turns). Once you're done, try to summarize it in your own words or modernize it.
Here are three prompts for praying WOW together as a group this week. Choose whichever you'd like to try:
- Watch this Planet Earth video (12 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA29U6g6HME&feature=youtu.be Pray in response to it. What do you want to tell God having seen this? (You might also like this video of beautiful chemical reactions: https://vimeo.com/107976057)
- Consider the sentence "God, You are like ______________." What is God like? Compare Him to something (several things preferably) and explain why He's like that thing. (Maybe God is like a coach or a pilot or a friend or a father or coffee...)
- Answer the question, "Where have you seen God this week?" Think of one moment when you feel like you saw God clearly. What did He look like? What was He doing? Was He worthy of praise? Telling your group how awesome God is IS PRAISE.
Watch this video by Louie Giglio about the ways creation praises God. It's the coolest.
Consider the following thoughts from C.S. Lewis's Reflections On The Psalms. Justin mentioned this quickly on Sunday. Here's the longer passage (If this seems like something your group would be interested in digging into, you're encouraged to read it and discuss. If it seems too cerebral or not interesting/needed feel free to skip it.):
“When I first began to draw near to belief in God and even for some time after it had been given to me, I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it. We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. The Psalms were especially troublesome in this way —‘Praise the Lord,’ ‘O praise the Lord with me,’ ‘Praise Him.’ . . . Worse still was the statement put into God’s own mouth, ‘whoso offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me’ (50:23). It was hideously like saying, ‘What I most want is to be told that I am good and great.’ . . . [Furthermore], more than once the Psalmists seemed to be saying, ‘You like praise. Do this for me, and you shall have some.’ Thus in [Ps.] 54 the poet begins ‘save me’ (1), and in verse 6 adds an inducement, ‘An offering of a free heart will I give thee, and praise thy Name.’ Again and again the speaker asks to be saved from death on the ground that if God lets His suppliants die He will get no more praise from them, for the ghosts in Sheol cannot praise ([Pss.] 30:10; 88:10; 119:175). And mere quantity of praise seemed to count; ‘seven times a day do I praise thee’ (119:164). It was extremely distressing...
[Part of my initial problem is that] I did not see that it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not of course the only way. But for many people at many times the ‘fair beauty of the Lord’ is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together. Even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men; in the central act of our own worship of course this is far clearer — there it is manifestly, even physically, God who gives and we who receive...
But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise... The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . .
If it were possible for a created soul fully . . . to ‘appreciate’, that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude. . . . To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God — drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him” (pp. 90-98).