I’m tempted to think my faltering, M.E-weakened voice, which willingly participates in our church’s online service but finds it exhausting to sing a note straight or complete a hymn without coughing, stopping and getting out of breath, could mean I’m not really praising God as I should.
But what is praise really about? How do we participate in it with any degree of eagerness? What might God be asking of us when He calls us to give Him praise and glorify His Name?
What if the whole of our lives are meant to be living praise, as well as living prayer? How might that look for you and me? I have no definitive answer to those questions, but I am keen to explore their depths, though I’m barely scratching the surface here.
what praise consists of
If the bible says that from the lips of children and infants God has ordained praise, then maybe we’re able to please Him, praise Him, and speak of His creative prowess simply because we exist. We’re not required to be eloquent or strong because God makes us sufficient in Himself.
God delights in us as children of His promise, so we are somehow praising Him while we enjoy our ordinary lives, learn, grow, and mature. We bring joy to His tender Father-heart. We exalt God by noticing the beauty that exists and helping to maintain it.
The more we pay attention to our lives, the more we will develop a sense of wonder, gratitude and awe. The blooming plant of inner praise might droop a little when we go through tough stuff, although if we ask God to increase our ability to notice blessings, it will begin to flourish once more.
keeping it real
In being and becoming our true selves in Christ, we learn how to please God with our hearts and lives. It doesn’t mean flawless perfection in our attitudes, actions or behaviour, but it does mean a deepening sense of who we are and how we’re intended to live in Him.
Whenever I slide into anxiety and discouragement, and listen too closely to what my weary body, bruised thoughts or fluctuating feelings are telling me, I find it harder to rouse myself to cheer or offer praising prayer.
Yet when I deliberately turn my mind away from my all too real physical challenges, note how creation continues to breathe out beauty, exudes praise, contentedly follows its seasonal cycles, and adapts again and again to change, it inspires and makes me yearn to do the same.
This side of heaven, we have the hard privilege of offering God praise from a broken heart, a broken mind or a broken life when we choose to acknowledge those things exist, yet focus more on the slivers of light shining within that very darkness, offering tiny glimpses of hope to us.
Praise is a recognition of God’s greatness, calling attention to His glory, power, wisdom and love, His omnipresent with-ness present with us now because of the Incarnation of Christ. This world, our lives and our days, may be overshadowed by pain but are continually saturated with God’s goodness and grace.
“We learn to praise God not by paying compliments, but by paying attention. Watch how the trees exult when the wind is in them. Mark the utter stillness of the great blue heron in the swamp. Listen to the sound of the rain. Learn how to say ‘Hallelujah’ from the ones who say it right.” — Frederick Buechner, in Faith That Matters: 365 Devotions From Classic Christian Leaders
Over the last few days Europe and the UK have been in the thrall of three violently destructive storms, one after the other, shaking the landscape to the core as heavy rain and ferocious winds caused lost lives and damage and disruption to transport and property. The names “Dudley”, “Eunice” and “Franklin” sound quite quaint, like mild-mannered uncles and aunt, but these storms haven’t lived up to that soft impression!
Whatever kind of storm we might be experiencing, whether meteorological or metaphorical, the reassurance we have is that God is right there with us, holding us close. While He might allow life’s storms, God never leaves us alone, as the song below suggests. Take heart, my friend, we can learn to praise Him in our storms. 🙂 ❤