Thoughts from John on Praising God


I guess sometimes we burden ourselves with lists of ‘oughts’ – ‘I ought to do this; I ought to do that,’ ‘I ought to praise God,’ and we feel failures because of our shortcomings. The bottom line, I think is that God loves us – whether or not there is one iota of praise in our hearts at a given moment – and of course, that itself is reason enough to praise.

But if the Psalms teach us anything, it’s that we can be real with God. It’s perfectly OK to say ‘I’m not feeling like praising you today, because today has gone absolutely pear-shaped. Why do you make it so difficult?’  But then we may find ourselves realising (or hearing the faintest inner prompting or whisper reminding us) that in the past there have been days when praise flowed easily from within us; and also days like today when God seemed absent for an hour or a week or a month, and we may find ourselves saying through our tears ‘OK, I trust you that the light is more real, more permanent than the darkness. I trust that you are real. Thank you!’

And it is not hypocrisy to say ‘Well, I don’t feel like praising you, but I believe you are wonderful, and I say the words expressing a truth which at present I do not feel.’ And as we say the words of praise, often (though not always) the Spirit of praise begins to flow in us and through us. I guess the point is that though we freely choose to praise, praise is actually a gift from God. Praise is the fruit of the Spirit of God, an expression of the Spirit of God. Our faltering words of praise in hard times are an opening-up of our hearts and minds to the Spirit.

Think about the Holy Trinity, the understanding that God is somehow relational. Father, Son and Spirit express and receive love and affirmation from one another. I think at the heart of our faith is that we are to be part of that circle of love and affirmation to which the whole universe is called. In praising we are linked to the Trinity, giving and receiving love and affirming. Father, Son and Spirit say to us ‘You are my wonderful, wonderful child,’ and praise is our response. In praising we become more fully who we were called to be.

And it’s important to emphasise that we praise God not just in the words we say, in the movement of our hearts, but in the choices we make in the hard places of our lives. To choose the way of light, wisdom, and love in the hard please is to say ‘Yes!’ to the God who is Light and Wisdom and Love.

Loved this quote from Richard Rohr’s meditation this morning:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
—St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

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