Yesterday, just 24 hours ago, we sang in worship, “I will sing to You as long as I live. I will praise you, God, to my last breath. I will worship You with arms held high.” (Greg Skodacek)
And I wondered again at the act of praise and worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. What is praise? What is it that causes our hearts to fill to overflowing with love, adoration, gratefulness, delight and thanksgiving that we are compelled to raise our arms and fall to our knees?
As I wonder about the act of praise, I realize, first of all, it is not an act, but a spontaneous outburst from the core of our being. When have I seen such praise? My mind races back to my mother. How often my memories go back to that woman who was so alive in the Lord. Returning from college, I walked through the living room with its mountainous scene painted on one wall in shades of purple through to the dining room with the windows filled with green plants to Mom's bedroom. She pulled the garment from beneath the presser foot of the Singer sewing machine, shouting, “Praise God.”
In my cynical just past-teen stage I asked, “What are you praising God for?” Her answer amazed me. Such a little thing.... “The thread came out even with the last seam, and I don't need to go to the store to buy more!”
I shook my head. Mom! She could burst into song at the most unusual times, voicing praise! “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. (Thomas Ken - 1674) She always ended the song, smiling, with a long “A-a-a-a-m-e-e-e-n!”
No blessing is too small to treasure and cause us to give praise to our Abba Father and delight in Him. Take delight in the Lord your God, and you will receive the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. How we long for control in our lives. How simple it is to put our trust in the One who controls our lives, our world, our universe. We always say when we don't understand our world, “God is in control.” And this isn't just powers and principalities and the workings of the universe, but all those small happenings we think at first are coincidences. Praise is a window through which our soul catches a glimpse of our Lord God. Praise is praying for it brings an awareness and presence of our Lord God.
Have you ever had tingles of anticipation and expectation invade your very being at Christmas, a new job, or your birthday? Or the wonder of the birth of a little baby? That is what being 'on the ready' for praises gives me. It is a mindset that is set on God and his working in our lives. Recognizing that God is able to do more than we can imagine and He loves us unconditionally brings a sense of peace.
Praising God is not 'hit or miss', it is intentional. And thus enters Ann Voskamp and her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. This is for all ages as women learn to recognize that life is not to be endured, to be grudgingly lived, but celebrated in the fullness of Praise and Thank You to the Lord. If the book makes you long for a cheerleader to lead you in seeing a praiseworthy life, go to Ann's blog - http://www.aholyexperience.com/ It is all about praising God.
Why did I wait to learn about the joy and fulfillment of praising that God gives until my 80's? I am thankful that during this age of daily aches and pains is now filled with Abundant Praise. When I encounter a situation that is less than pleasant, I give God thanks for his strength and wisdom to see me through.
Youth is a constant, “So?” stage of life. That stage when everything achieved and experienced is a gift, without realizing the Giver is the Author and Finisher of our Faith . “Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect is from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shadows.” James 1:16-17 I like The Message version - So my dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.
King David, a man of flaws, and yet a man after God's own heart, knew how to praise God long ago.. I heard from a friend how dear reading the Psalms was to him. I know why. Praise that sings from the heart was David's joy. In the Bible there are 363 references to praise and 181 of the references are from David, the writer of the Psalms. He knew the secret of joy in the Lord through praise.
Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Psalm 150
The last book, Revelation has four references to praise. Revelation 7:12 and Revelation 19:5 are the last two. Revelation 7:11-12 – All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying; “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Revelation 19:13 – Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying” “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!”
To me, Praise is....
- Delighting in God
- Being alert and ready to praise for little and big blessings
- Singing to God
- Thanking God
- Remembering the gift of salvation
- Remembering the cross and the resurrection
- Being mindful of His Glory and Grace
- Worshiping the Creator, not the Creation.
- Constantly seeking His Presence.
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 (NIV)
The question is, can I say with honesty, the words of this song – “Praise is What I Do”? “Praise is what I do/ When I want to be close to You, I lift my hands in praise. Praise is who I am, I will praise Him while I can. I'll bless Him at all times.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFuNuhoPdyw