God, I'm not having a good day.
I don't feel very positive.
I don't feel very much like talking to you, if I'm honest, and I certainly don't feel full of praise. I feel like moaning on about how bad I perceive things to be, how miserable I am, how hard life is. I think I could go on about this at length, and, as you know, I have form in this area. I'm quite good at it. This is what I feel like doing right now.
So I'm not going to.
I am going to praise you because you are my God and deserving of praise. You died for me; making the effort to praise you when I don't feel like it is a small thing to do.
'I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.'
Lord God, who made the sun that's shining on the side of my head as I'm talking to you now, I want to praise your holy name. You are the only God, King of Kings. I don't offer you my worship because you need it or because it is required of me - it's because I was made to worship you.
'Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.'
Every day. Whether I feel like it or not.
'Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
His greatness no-one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.'
You are great indeed. Great seems to be an over-used word in our culture where a nice meal is 'great' and pop stars from twenty years ago are known as 'The Greats'. Your greatness is different altogether, Father. Yours is a greatness that no-one can fathom; it is beyond us. You are above all things. You have done mighty things; never made a mistake. You are eternal and everlasting and unchanging and I want to tell my daughters how wonderful you are. I want them to know what I know and grow and grow.
'They speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty -
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works -
and I will proclaim your great deeds.'
I only have to look around me to see the glorious splendour of you. It's late February and although cold weather might well return for a few more weeks at the moment the sun is out, the sky is blue and there's a freshness that makes me think that Spring is coming. The sun is shining into the room I'm in and the dust motes are dancing in the shaft of light. Outside the window is a bed of snowdrops and a couple of crocuses with delicate purple veined petals are just opening up. Beauty.
I'm looking at my two daughters as they laugh together (is primary school toilet humour a topic for praise, Lord? I find it a bit wearying after a while I must confess and I'm eagerly awaiting the day when they grow out of it...Anything you can do about that?) but I digress. My girls are so beautiful, so innocent, so full of life and enthusiasm. They learn so fast, they smile so readily. They're unselfconscious and extravagant and full of love. What a breathtaking act of delegation is parenthood? What a miracle that two people can create such wonders. I see Bryan in Katy's smile and in Lizzie's physique. I see my own father in the girls' dimples and the way Kate lifts her eyebrows sometimes. I see myself as a child in Elizabeth's school photos. I look at my girls and I see you.
Your works are indeed wonderful.
'They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.'
I need to do more celebrating and less commiserating. I am surrounded by beauty and wonder and miracles and gifts and blessings. I will sing of your goodness and your righteousness. Lord God help me to open my heart to the joy that comes from praising you. You are good to me. I'm sorry for all the times that I take your abundant goodness for granted and choose instead to focus on the negatives.
'The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all he has made.'
I know that you will forgive me because it is your nature to forgive. I know that you are gracious and full of compassion. I know that you are slow to get angry. Not like me; I flare up all too easily. I am often on a short fuse and my irritability knows no bounds. Thankyou that you are not like me. Help me to be more like you.
You are good to me. Thankyou for your kindness and unfailing compassion. Thankyou that no matter what I've done, how I'm feeling, I know that because you are full of grace and kindness I can come to you without fear of being turned away or consumed and destroyed by your holiness. Thankyou that no matter how many times I mess things up, I can still turn around and see your arms open for me to return to.
'All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.'
Amen. I am your creation, your work - and I lift my eyes and my hands and praise you, glorious Lord. I stand in the ranks of your children and I praise you. I lift you high. You are the Lord.
'Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.'
You are unchanging. Your kingdom will never be destroyed. It will last forever; beyond anything this world can offer and beyond our imaginations. You will never be defeated. You are the same God who spoke to Moses, to Abraham, to David, to John and to Peter. You are the Lord who showed his hands and side to Thomas. You are the God who inspired the great churchmen of the ages and you are my God too. You are the God who walks beside me in my small, imperfect journey through life.
I love you.
You keep your promises. You never change your mind, or change the goalposts. It is as you say. I can trust you absolutely with the big things and with the little things of my life. You are faithful. Praise you, Lord God, creator of the world. Thankyou for loving me.
'The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.'
Amen. I know that this is true. I have been weary and I have leaned on you. I have fallen and you have gently helped me to my feet again. You have lifted my head when I have been weighed down with selfish troubles and you are always there for me. You know what I need and when I need it and if I only trust you then I will never be without. Help me to trust you for the things that I need and not run after so many things that mean nothing at all.
The other morning I lay in bed and listened to the song of a blackbird outside the window. It occurred to me that the bird was doing what it was made to do. It was singing because it was a blackbird and that is what blackbirds do. It wasn't worried (to the best of my knowledge) about where the next worm was to be found, or whether the next door's cat might one day get too close for comfort; it just sang in praise of the living God that made it.
If I, too, am made to praise, what would it be like if I did wholeheartedly what I am made to do? What a perfect sound could I make? How pleasing it would be to you, Lord God, if I could lay aside everything superfluous and sinful and simply live to praise you?
'The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.'
Yes, Lord, I know that you are near. I know this because you have said that you will be with me always, and you are righteous and faithful. I know that you will never let me down. I know that you are near even when I don't feel you - I know because earlier on this morning I felt as if you were a million miles away and now I know that you were there all the time. You don't move. You don't walk away when I offend you.
I call on you, Lord God. I cannot hide anything from you. I lay before you all that I am, all the bits I'd rather stuff into a dark corner as well as the bits that I quite like. I am who I am - you know because you made me. You know what stage I'm at in my journey towards you. Here I am.
Hold me close by your side. I want to stay there, I really do; it's just that I can't seem to do what I want to do. I keep wandering off. I keep getting distracted by other things. My eye is caught by something and suddenly I realise that I have strayed off the path. Thankyou that you are always there to guide me back. Lord, thank you for your love and faithfulness.
'My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.'
Amen and amen.
I believe that there will come a day when the whole of creation past, present and future will praise you, Father God. Everybody will see your glory and will worship you. There will be no-one who denies that you are who you are. It won't be possible. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that you are the Lord.
I'm looking forward to that day.
I feel better.