Petition and praise are often mingled in worship, but properly speaking, they alone do not constitute worship. “Lord, save my soul,” is petition. “Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul,” is praise. “Thank you, Lord, for what Thou art,” is worship. Petition An illustration may help make this somewhat subtle distinction a little clearer. Let’s suppose a person who cannot swim falls into a river. As he struggles to save himself, and realizes how hopeless it is, he cries out from his heart, “Help! Help! Save me! Save me!” This is petition. No convicted sinner needs to be taught to pray. A Puritan commentary on Psalm 107, where sinners are described as crying to God for deliverance, says, “Misery wonderfully indoctrinates a person in the art of prayer!” Praise
In response to this drowning man’s cry for help, a well-dressed man suddenly appears. Without hesitating, he dives into the river and, risking his own life, brings the drowning man safely to shore. The response of the saved one is overwhelming praise: “How can I ever express my gratitude to you for your brave act in saving my life! Thank you, again and again!” This illustrates what takes place when a sinner is brought to realize that Christ, the Son of God, by His substitutionary work on Calvary, has made possible his salvation from sin’s penalty. Upon his acceptance of Christ as his Savior, he is assured, from God’s Word, that he is saved. This fills his soul with joy, and his lips with songs of praise to the One who saved him.
But now the rescuer, after seeing the saved one safely home, hands him his card saying, “Please come to my home tomorrow and dine with me, so we can become better acquainted.” The next day the rescued man goes to the address on the card. To his surprise, his rescuer lives in the biggest mansion in the wealthiest part of the town. The butler answers the door and ushers him into the room. His rescuer-host then appears and immediately puts his guest at ease.
During an excellent dinner, he becomes aware of his host’s nobility, kindliness, hospitality, wisdom, graciousness and humility. In other words, he learns to appreciate his host’s moral character and true worth, apart from what he has done for him as his savior. While he does not forget that his host was his rescuer, his gratitude for what he did for him is now exceeded by his admiration and appreciation of what he is, in himself. And the more he gets to know his host the greater this appreciation grows.
Hopefully, this illustration demonstrates the distinction which exists between petition, praise and worship. The believer can never forget that the Lord Jesus Christ is his Savior, and that He has redeemed him at the cost of His most precious blood. Yet, as he comes to know the Lord more intimately, his gratitude to Him as Savior merges with an ever-increasing appreciation of His glorious Person, as various aspects of His character are revealed by the Spirit through His Word. The Christian, by communion with his Lord, comes to exclaim with the wisest of all men, “My Beloved is … the chiefest among ten thousand … altogether lovely!” (Song 5:10,16).
By A. P. Gibbs
|“There are only three kinds of prayer:
Help me! – Thank You – Wow!”
— Anne Lamott
By Tim Hadley
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org