Jesus said, “When you pray to the Intimate Unknowable, start from a place of worship. Say, ‘Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name.'” Holy is your name.
There is much here to unpack, but let’s begin with the idea of worship, praise, and thanksgiving as Jesus’ advice for how to enter into God’s presence. That shouldn’t be surprising; after all, the Psalmist said, “Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise unto God with praise.”(Psalm 95:2) And, “Enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving and into God’s courts with praise. Give thanks to God and praise God’s name for God is good and God’s love endures forever.” (Psalm 100:4-5)
These Psalms were the hymns Jesus sang as a boy. They had planted themselves in his soul and he knew that the most effective way to fully open his heart to God was with worship and thanksgiving. That posture, that attitude heals our presumption and arrogance. Worship aligns us with the real Source of Life, and it reminds us that WE are not that source. “It is God who has made us and not we ourselves.”
Worship acknowledges that and is our life’s best alignment. Great souls of all faiths know this. Rumi, the 13th century poet and Islamic scholar, said, “If you say only one prayer in a day make it ‘Thank You.'” At almost exactly the same time, German monk, theologian, and mystic Meister Eckhart said,””If the only prayer you said was ‘thank you’ that would be enough.”
This seems so simple that we all assume we understand it fully, but if you’re an artist of any kind you know well that the most basic skill is the one you spend a lifetime practicing and perfecting. It is actually the hardest and most complex.
In his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster says, “There are two sides to the Prayer of Adoration: thanksgiving and praise. The usual distinction between these two experiences is this: in thanksgiving we give glory to God for what God has done for us; in praise we give glory to God simply for who God is.”
Who God is. That’s where Jesus told us to start. We can’t really understand who the Infinite God is with our finite minds, but worship invites us humbly into that holy presence.