I remember being at my first singles group meeting on January 8th of this year, and a woman name Joyce shared with us what praising God had done for her. Learning to praise Him even in the most difficult of times, circumstances and disappointments was how she found her way back into His arms. That idea was foreign to me. I praise Him when the good happens, when He comes to mind, but I don't seek after Him in praise just because...
A friend whom I deeply care about just told me that she feels forsaken by God. My hurt aches and breaks for her. As soon as we hung up the phone, I sought out Daddy and cried out for her. To know she is not forsaken. To know that she is Beloved of God. To know that her verse of Jeremiah 29:11 is not a lie for our Daddy is a PROMISE KEEPER! As I turned around to sit on the side of my bed, I saw the binding of a book I'd bought long ago and never read called, "The Prayer That Changes Everything" by Stormie Omartian.
What changes everything? Praise of God. During a church service one day, Jack Hayford, the pastor at Stormie's church asked members to yell out names or attributes of God. Here is what they said: "Creator", "Heavenly Father", "Lord", "Savior", "Redeemer", "Deliverer", "Peace", "The Word", "All-Knowing", "All-Powerful", "Light of the World", "All Sufficient", "God with Us" (which is what Emmanuel means, btw) (pg. 29) . When you think of WHO He is in these terms and what He's done for us and how He loves us, how can you not praise Him?!
Worship is transformational! As Stormie explains it, "When you make worship a lifestyle, it will determine in whose image you will be formed and what you will become." This sentiment is echoed by a Psalmsist, The truth is, we become like what or who we worship (Psalm 115:4-8); the more we worship God, the more we become like Him (pp15). Trust me that I know it's not easy when you're in the tough places of life and living in the midst of your circumstances, but when you are standing in position as a daughter or son of our awesome God, at His right hand, having received the richness of His Kingdom, having said with our mouth that He is Lord and Savior, it will change everything--starting with your heart for Him!
I started thinking about the prayer that Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord (Matt 6:9-13). It begins with praise, our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven... And as recited in church, the Anglican and Catholic churches have ended it with praise saying, For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. When we say this prayer by rote and not from the depth of understanding who He is and why we are speaking these words to Him, we miss out on the gifts of true praise and worship of Him who sent His only Son to die for us because He loves us THAT MUCH! Jack Hayford reminds us, "It's not your saying, 'I'll give it everything I've got, and the Lord will bless it,' but rather it's the Lord saying to you, 'You just bless My name, and I'LL give it everything I have.' That's the hidden power of praise!" So, dear friends, wherever you are in this journey, PRAISE HIM! Praise Him because of who He is and not what He has done or not done (yet) in your life/for you. Let that unlock your heart to knowing Him in a way you never have before. ♥ xox