What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Expression of Intimacy: Praise

I love praising God. For a while, in the first 5-6 years of my Christian life, I praised God every day for at least five minutes. This came about because of an application I made from a seminar I went to with the woman who led me to Christ. I don’t remember a whole lot from that seminar (probably in 1979), but I remember the application. The speaker challenged us to pledge specific vows to God, and be amazed at His help at keeping the vows. I vowed to praise God for five minutes every day, early in the day. For many years, day in and day out, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my vow when I (almost) forgot about it on some days. Before I could close my eyes at night, the Holy Spirit would say to me, “Where’s today’s praising?” I would sit up in bed, thank God for His faithfulness in helping me to remember, and complete my five minutes for the day.
It was more than a habit. Some days it was what tied me to reality and truth in my messed up mind. Some days it brought me great joy and assurance. Some days it drew me closer to a fellow Christian as I asked them to praise with me. I truly believe doing it, wholeheartedly, kept me from falling off the deep end of depression or soaring to the psychotic stages of mania. I didn’t know I had a mental illness back then so there were no doctor-prescribed meds to keep me stable. I’m not saying I was “stable” during those years; I’m saying that things could’ve been much, much worse, either lows or highs. It was my source of hope when all else seemed to be hopeless.
I’m not sure why or when I stopped doing it. I do know that if I had kept it up, my journey into insanity might have taken a different route. I wish I had kept it up, but I didn’t. Over the years, I’ve thought about that vow and made attempts to start doing it again, but did not have a lasting practice of doing it. In my Bible study this week on Intimacy with God by Cynthia Heald, the topic was how praise is the expression of the intimacy we have with God. The greater our intimacy the more frequent our praise. I was convicted again about doing the praise daily; however, this time I’m renewing my vow to God and trusting the Holy Spirit to remind me daily to follow through on keeping it. In order to hold myself accountable, I decided I will write the praises out in a journal.
Scripture supports the concept of praising God frequently. Psalm 89:15 in the NIV says, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.” I’ve experienced many blessings because I learned and practiced giving God acclaim. Acclaim’s definition is to “praise enthusiastically and publicly.” Synonyms include “praise, applaud, cheer, commend, approve, compliment, celebrate, rave about, exalt, extol, and honor.” If we consider God’s character, it becomes easier and easier to acclaim Him, and that comes about by growing in intimacy with Him.
One of the best ways to begin praising God is to pray back to Him Scripture, especially some of the Psalms. I decided to memorize Psalm 150:1-2 because in those verses I am given plenty for which to praise God:
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds,
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.

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