Recently, I’ve been bothered by all the extra effort required to praise the Lord. I’ve asked myself: why it is so difficult ? Why not like second nature? Reading Psalm 36 has helped me to find an answer.
Having to exert extra effort to praise our Lord seems like I don’t mean it. Even worse, trying to placate God with pious platitudes. Like He can be flattered– a sucker for a few sweet compliments. A push-over for some hackneyed ‘old chestnuts’.
To be honest, that’s not my issue. I do want to spend quality and quantity time praising God. I really do. Reading and spending time today in God’s Word at Psalm 36 has given me some hope. That I’m on the right track. Stop berating myself for having these difficulties in prayer.
Do you also find yourself asking more for this-and-that rather than applauding God? Requests galore rather than raving about Him? Aren’t you sorry I got two new thesauri for Christmas !?!
In Psalm 36 we find a great chasm between sinful man and holy God. The first four verses are a litany of evil portrayed. The life and times of the faithless. King David, who wrote this poem, is burdened for the ungodly. The Hebrew ‘oracle’ means ‘burden’. The wicked sin with abandon, having no fear of God Almighty. Their god is their own sinfulness. Their law is lawlessness. How do they live like this? Verse two says that they flatter themselves. They kid themselves not noticing their own destructive ways. Blind to the truth. Self-talk… as far from honest as possible.
Here is where I gather a smidgeon of hope. As a sinner, I naturally don’t want to praise God or really have much to do with Him. My inclination is to focus on myself or those who can benefit me. Yet new life comes my way from Jesus. By grace alone. By His initiative. None of my good deeds add up to a holy ‘hill of beans’!
Here’s the hope I see. Here’s what the Lord has shown me. Don’t worry. Won’t be easy. Stop agonizing. You’re not there yet. Keep on… keeping on. When you don’t feel like it, praise the Lord anyway. When it feels so wooden and unnatural, praise Him in spite of whatever. We are new creations, but the old lies close to the surface. Don’t waste too much time hand-wring, nail-biting, when you get lost in yourself. The Holy Spirit will knock rather loudly on your door. Open up and let some fresh air into the dank, dark cells we too often live in. Got it? I think I have. I’ll slip back… but God will lift me up and pull me out. I’m going to keep at it. To praise Him. Join me? I could sure use the company!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for making us new creations in Jesus, your Son. Amen.