Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 93; 150, Exodus 28:1-4, 30-38, 1 John 2:18-29, Mark 6:30-44
Our relationship with God, like any relationship, can grow complicated and cluttered. Once in a while it is good to lay aside prayer requests, theology, and Bible study and focus on simple praise. Even prayers of thanks draw focus back to our own needs. We need to praise God for nothing other than being God. Such praise reminds us why we love God to begin with, and helps us settle firmly back into the foundations of our relationship.
If we can get to church and are inclined to do so, corporate praise and worship can move us even further outside ourselves. The atmosphere and music can kick-start the praise experience in a way we may not be able to accomplish alone. While we are just as close to God while at work or in front of the television, a good praise service can help us feel that closeness in more intense ways, and maybe help reset our attitude for the week.
If we don’t attend church, other resources are available. We can find praise music in almost any style we like. Actually sing – it’s the difference between praising and listening to someone else do it. If singing is not our thing, or if we want a more varied experience, the Psalms are rich with words of praise. Today’s selected Psalms are great examples (particularly 150 and 117). Becoming familiar with the Psalms is a great way to learn resources not just for praise, but for any type of prayer – the Psalms walk us through all conditions of life. If you aren’t yet familiar with the Psalms, the last five (146-150) are almost pure praise. They were written to be sung, so at least read them boldly aloud. Proclaim them!
If none of these suggestions meet your needs, find a manner of praise that works for you. Dance. Raise your hands and bow your head. Shout “Hallelujah”! The important thing to keep in mind is that the experience should be outwardly focused toward God and the glory of what God is and does. Praise plants us firmly, rights our perspective, and refreshes our souls.
Comfort: Praise is something you can do any time, any place.
Challenge: Is your praise time focused on who God is, or what God has done for you? The difference is subtle, but important.
Prayer: Lord of all Creation, I praise and bless your name. Your steadfast love endures forever. Amen!
Discussion: What is your favorite form of praise?
Evening Psalms: 136, 117
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