It is Lent and no doubt, we are in the full swing of the things we said we would do or what we would give up during this season. I was thinking recently how praising God could be one of those things.
How many times do you hear people say that they are giving up sweets or coffee for Lent? How many times do you hear people say they want to participate more in Stations of the Cross or work at a soup kitchen during Lent? Yet how many do you hear say they want to get into the habit of praising God more?
In prayer lately, I feel God has been asking me to praise and thank Him more. The busyness of my life seems to have made that gentle request slip my mind. Yet now with Lent, and the focus of more concentrated fasting and prayer in my life, the gentle request is heard once more.
I have been reading the Psalms a lot lately, and am amazed at how many are about praising God! He is our loving Father, Who desires our love in return. He wants to be thanked for all the good He has given to us. Even what may seem bad for the moment may really just be a lesson to be learned, a much needed correction, or a blessing in disguise. Yet either way, God wants our praise.
I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live. (Psalm 104:33 NAB)
I have recently been able to rearrange my schedule so that I can once again cantor during Mass. As a cantor, I am the one who leads the people in singing the Psalms during Mass. There are many times that we sing what I call the praise Psalms. Because I have learned them I like to sing them around the house. As St. Augustine was once heard to say, “He who sings prays twice.”
Hallelujah! How good to sing praise to our God; how pleasant to give fitting praise. (Psalm 147:1)
Some years ago, I taught catechism to my son’s class when he was little. Kids are great. They like to jump around, make noise, and sing really loud when you tell them, “Let’s praise the Lord with singing!” They must surely bring great joy to our Lord!
All you peoples, clap your hands; shout to God with joyful cries. (Psalm 47:2)
You even hear about how praising God releases His blessings. In the Bible, Paul & Silas learned about the power of God through praising Him. After being brought before the local magistrates and accused of causing a disturbance, they were thrown into the innermost cell of a prison with their feet tied to a stake. While they were in their prison cell, they started to sing the praises of God. He was surely with them as the following Bible verse states:
About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. (Acts 16:25-26)
God blessed their songs of praise with a release of their bondages. We should sing so mightily that our own chains are loosed, eh? And then, if the following verse doesn’t tell us how much God wants our praise, what will?
Let everything that has breath give praise to the LORD! Hallelujah! (Psalm 150:6)
If we don’t sing the praises of God, which is rightly due to Him, then who will? Our answer is found in this story of what Jesus said to the Pharisees when riding on the donkey into Jerusalem.
And now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:37-40)
I think that gentle request I sensed in prayer really was from God. There sure is a lot of Scripture to support it. I think right now is good time to start to thank and praise Him.
Hallelujah! Give thanks to the LORD, who is good, whose mercy endures forever. (Psalm 106:1)
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