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Sing Praises

Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. Ps. 47:6

Kind of like a tough guy not looking as intimidating with a popsicle, it’s just hard to be bitter and sing heartily. It may feel awkward at times, or may be energizing at others, but either way it effects one’s soul, even if lightly.

The other morning, Ellie, Chad and I made the rule that you could not speak but could only sing our thoughts to each other. It was as hilarious as it sounds. The best part, we decided, is what it did to flaring tempers. When you have to sing (preferably in an operatic melody) “Stop that, stop that sto-o-o-op that!” rather than harshly yell it, it does far more than a soft answer to turn away wrath. It makes everyone giggle and immediately forget whatever rage was sparked by what is typically some small violation of personal rights.

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. Psalm 150

Singing praises to God is more than just “the power of positive thinking”. It is a contrast to “reality denial”. Singing praises to God is focusing more on true reality than I often I remember in the course of my day. Just like my children can have their tempers ignited in an instant over personal rights violations that usually are somewhat trivial to an outside observer, I am no different. I forget that He who made the stars and calls them each by name can have no plans thwarted. When my plans are thwarted, His are not, so I can praise Him. I forget that when soldiers come to take my Lord away to the cross, I don’t have to chop off their ears, because He is in control even then and doing something huge, so I can praise Him. I can praise Him when I don’t understand and when I deeply resent the way things appear. Rather than reality denial, it is a reality reminder to my own heart. I can choose to worship Him and praise His ways and will or I can worship at the alter of my own agenda…which can be powerfully tempting.

Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away. Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the LORD. Psalm 148 It was November in college of my senior year and that time of year and semester when everyone was ready to go home. Classes were heading toward the end of the semester where more papers were due and exams were looming. Roommates had begun to lose their sparkle and the weather was getting colder. It was in this context that eight of us on a leadership team for a ministry at Vanderbilt gathered for our weekly meeting. We each came in the door like abused dogs, heads hanging low and tails between our legs. The negativity and stress were palpable. We chose to pray only praises. We had to go on a long time because it started slowly and reluctantly. At one point someone looked up and said, “Nope, can’t stop yet, we’re still a sad lot.” We kept praising and thanking and praising and thanking. I kid you not, we were giddy by the end. We were laughing and joking and even full of energy. Nothing in our circumstances had changed. The same stresses awaited us after we went back to our apartments and studies. But our hearts and minds had been given perspective. If He was still on His throne in control of all things, well then, maybe we could choose to delight in that.

Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! Psalm 147:1

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