** I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. ** Psalm 34 :1,2,3
One of the hardest Christian practices is to praise the Lord at ALL times. It is hard to praise Him when everything is falling apart because we are in the middle of a storm of troubles. To praise the Lord at all times requires a mental and spiritual self-discipline to rise above our circumstances and to focus only on Him and his promises. It takes practice and determination to keep our eyes and our heart on the Lord and not on the pain that we are going through. But once we are able to do that, praise flows from us like a supernatural force that starts a chain reaction for eternity. A little flame that can start a forest fire of praise.
If we can practice our praise on a daily basis, forming a habit of finding something to praise Him for, no matter what is happening in our lives and our audience of one, He will return to us more strength to praise Him more often and in tougher situations.
In the beginning it may feel mechanical, or even forced. But each time we use our voice to exalt the One who gave us all good things and carries us through all the bad things, it becomes more comfortable and flows from a deeper and more life altering place. The chain reaction has gone another step. The flame is a bit brighter. It goes from conscious, disciplined praise to ‘natural’, easy flowing praise.
David tells us that the next chain of praise begins to touch the hearts of those who are tender-hearted and humbled by life’s darker days.They are those that recognize that they are in need of something or someone greater than themselves. This type of praise comes from deep down in our soul according to Psalm 34. It is not religious lip service. It is pure, God-focused praise. It is gratitude and sincerity rolled into one. Our joyful praise becomes infectious and spills out on others, strengthening them the way David’s harp and songs lifted the darkness from King Saul. The flame is catching the kindling on fire.
Finally, in verse 3, we see that our sincere, heartfelt praise invites others to join us in exalting the One who changed our lives and filled us with hope. It is now a spiritual pandemic, filling the hearts of others with the same desire to turn their thoughts from complaints and self-pity to praise and worship.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that the book of Psalms comes right after the book of Job. Trials before praise. Pain before worship.
Life can be hard and full of suffering that comes in many forms. Few of us will ever face as much pain and loss as Job or David did. But all of us will go through this process of learning to praise the Lord at all times. All we have to do is speak those first few words. No matter what our circumstances are. Right now. No matter how busy or stressed or frustrated or sad or broke or hurt or desperate we are, let’s stop. Let’s stop and take a minute to praise the Lord for His mercy. For His grace. For His never-ending love. For His power. For creating the trees and fields and flowers. For giving us the ability to breathe and walk and talk.
The list is endless. Praise Him at all times. Say it out loud. Say it like you mean it. Say it and get that chain reaction going. Turn the match into a spiritual forest fire!