Psa 61:8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever, so that I may daily pay my vows.
A lot of translations (I use e-sword so I can compare) leave out the "so" in that, but it is really the critical word here. The effort of praising God is what wins access to the grace that keeps our promises. That's why Jesus put it first in the prayer He taught the Apostles. But praise is a funny thing. Inside the group, singing with the choir, offering a sweet sound up to God, that is where praise is easy. But how about at 5 AM when you're just waking up, trying to get ready for work, silencing the latest earworm, trying to forget the dream that just got interrupted? Without that choir backing you, sometimes "praise" sounds hollow, repetitious... incomplete.
This week, Bobby G. unwittingly named my Tuesday not once, but twice. On Tuesday, he put it this way:
First off of the porch is our WHO SAID THAT? quote of the week:
"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."
I think this makes a good case for WHY some people fail - the incorrect manner of thinking weighs them down, and causes them to make bad choices.
And I DID have that. I made every little thing into a life-or-death, heaven-or-hell argument with God. And what sucked was, I KNEW I was doing it. I kept telling myself, this is all on you- you're making big deals out of little ones. And moments later, the next three bad things would happen, and I was right back at it again.
And just so I wouldn't forget it, Bob laid it out on me (unwittingly again) the next day:
Most times, the complexities of people are exacerbated by their own selves...THEY make things harder without any outside influence. OUCH.
So how do you get out of the funk? Jesus gave the answer- Praise. I listened to Tony Evans early Saturday morning. He talked about the procedure for accessing grace. Grace, or blessings, is like a bank account. Everything God's ever going to give you is already in it. Faith is the means by which we make "withdrawals." And obedience is the characteristic that makes it a faith that has the right "password" to access the account. Put another way, he explained. Say you have a pain. First you try to take care of it yourself, with OTC medicine. But if that doesn't work, you have to see the doctor. He runs a battery of tests, and writes you down a prescription you can't understand. So you take it to the pharmacist. You trust him to give you the right drugs to alleviate the problem. But spiritually, many times we ignore the obedience part- instead of "taking two every four hours", we might take two every four days. And then wonder why nothing's changed.
So then the procedure is obedience which activates faith, and then faith activates grace. And at least one of the obediences I struggle with is praise. Not because I forget to/don't make time to/ don't want to praise, but because my human mind doesn't get past the idea of, "How do you tell the omnipotent creator of everything from the smallest particle to the largest galactic cluster how great He is in such a way that He doesn't just say, yeah, I know?"
How do you? Bow down before Him, eventually you nod off. Think back on what He has done and where He's been for you, and you drift into Thanksgiving- what He does for you rather than what He is. Sing a song- how many verses of Holy Holy Holy do you know before you have to repeat?
So then do you try to analyse, until you get to, "so why does a God need worship, anyway?" Answer, He doesn't. And there lies the problem. Coming to Him, wanting to do the right thing say the right words, give Him what He needs... when He doesn't NEED anything. Praise isn't a need of God's, it's a need of OURS. Young lovers get it. Sometimes you just look into the other one's eyes when you can't express what you feel. And it's enough.
And if all you need to say to God is, "Wow, you're awesome," and that covers it, then that's it. No need to try to find old hymn books or turn a bunch of regular words into a bigger bunch of three dollar words.
After the debacle that was my Tuesday, a text of a Bible passage by a friend made me think, you know, maybe if I had a Bible verse to concentrate on when these brain spasms occur, it might help me. So I found a random verse generator on my work computer, and Friday I tested it out. Here's what I got:
Pro 17:22 A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.
Isn't that cool? But like I told my buddy Bob, the day it comes up John 11:35, I'm getting a sick pass and going home.