How do you know when God is speaking to you? For me, I know that when I get multiple messages on the same subject, I need to pay attention. This week, through three different readings, the Lord spoke to me on the same subject, “praise.” I have always realized the importance of praising God, but I will confess I am a closet “praiser.” I am not one to raise my hands in church toward the heavens nor am I one to vocally shout “Praise God!” when there is an answered prayer. Although I love Christian hymns and music, I am not prone to singing at the top of my lungs in honor of the Lord. However, I do praise God at home on bended knee every day and I love to listen to Christian contemporary music inside my home while I’m cleaning the house. I praise Him for His creation as I admire his handiwork outside my kitchen window. But is it enough?
What I realized is that I did not see the bigger picture concerning praise. When we praise God, we draw Him nearer to us. Psalm 22:3 in the King James Version states, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” God lives in our praises! According to Nancy Leigh DeMoss in her book, “A Place of Quiet Rest,” praising the Lord is a cure for spiritual dryness. When David was fleeing from King Saul, he was fearful for his life, hiding out in caves, hungry and thirsty, but in Psalm 63:1-5 he praises God despite his circumstances:
“O God, you are my God. I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live. I will lift up my hands and call on your name.”
As I read this, I realized that if God seems distant at any time, I can find Him by praising him! When we bless the Lord through our words, raise our hands in praise to the Lord or sing to the Lord, it’s an invitation to God to fill us and to inhabit our praises.
This concept reminded me of an experience 16 years ago. I was driving in my car from Stratford, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts when I popped in a tape by singer Rod Stewart. The song, “Have I Told You Lately” came on. As I listened to the words. I thought, “Wow, that is a very spiritual song and I began to sing it at the top of my lungs over and over to God: “Have I told you lately that I love you? Have I told you there’s no one else above you? Fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness. Ease my troubles; that’s what you do.”
What happened after that day was amazing! Almost everywhere I went, the song “Have I Told You Lately” played. It played when I was at the grocery store. It played when I was at the drug store. It played at the restaurants I went to. I’ll admit, it was a little spooky but I realized God was playing the song back to me. My praises had brought him very near, so close that I could almost touch Him. To this day, this song will play at key times when I am struggling with an issue. It is God’s and my song!
For me, the message is, I need to get back to the business of praising God. I had become lax in it and because of that, spiritually dry at times. Remember the words of Psalm 43:5:
“Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Praise God! He is worthy to be praised!