Have you ever felt lost and all alone? Even when surrounded by others? Even when you pray? Sometimes I have found that God seems so far away. It is like I can’t see Him, and perhaps He doesn’t see me. Then all of those things that bother me pile up and become such a mountain of burden that I feel they might crush me. And no one sees. No one knows. No one cares. I am all alone.
Occasionally I feel a glimpse of hope. When I am in church on Sunday morning, for the briefest of seconds, while praising God in my spirit, all seems well. Then I head home and the darkness closes in again.
There is something special about worshipping God corporately. But do we need to wait until Sunday morning to do it? No. When we read in Revelation 4 about John being taken to the throne room of heaven to witness the constant praise of the Father that goes on around the throne, we can be confident that we can join that worship at any time. From the confines of my home or car or anywhere, I can begin to praise the Lord and in the Spirit I can transcend this reality and join the throngs of elders and angels in the throne room of heaven just as John did. I can lay at the feet of Christ and there get the love I need, the healing I need, the direction I need, and the perspective I need.
This place is the opposite of alone. This is a place of fulfillment and peace. Here I can find all that I need. Here I am found. All it takes is praise. Anytime, anywhere I can join the song that never ends and never have to feel alone again.
Over the last few months my body has been under attack. The constant assault beat me down and strained all the other areas of my life. All I wanted to do was sleep. It has been similar to getting a physical beating. Imagine being beaten and kicked by a gang of people. Down on the ground in a fetal position, arms covering your head. There is a point when the will to survive gives in to the will to let go. There is a moment when you think that if only you could pass out. When you become totally defeated and escape is the only option left.That is the way I have been feeling.
A couple of weeks ago I went to an evening praise service at the church. Even getting there was a feat.But while I sat listening to the others praise God (I didn’t feel like it), He spoke to me, “Don’t I deserve your praise?” I was stunned. He knows all about the way things have been and how I was feeling. That didn’t matter. The circumstances of my life did not change who He is.And He is worthy of praise. I realized that from the time that this began I had stopped praising Him. I would pray and beg for something to change.I would read my Bible hoping for something profound. But I stopped praising. I stopped looking at Him for who He is.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “…, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, …” And we know who He is: out provider, deliverer, healer, ruler, redeemer, Lord, and King. And we know as it says in Ps 22:3 , “But You are holy; Enthroned in the praises of Isreal.” If we know that God is present in the praises of His people and that He is all that we need, doesn’t it make sense that what we need must begin in praise? Is it any surprise that Jesus taught us to pray by first praising the Father? If I really recognize who He is, then my first response will be the same as the elders around the throne in Revelation (4:11a) declaring, “You are worthy Oh Lord, to receive glory and honor and power…” Isn’t it here, in the presence of God that we find our healing and deliverance and provision?
I found myself repenting of the sin of holding back praise from the One who is worthy. I recognized Him as God. My God. I lifted my hands and cried out in praise. Not because He had healed me, but because He is the healer; not because He had delivered me, but because He is the deliverer. He is worthy. And in the process of giving honor where it is due, healing and deliverance came.
Praise the Lord!
I was sitting outside this morning trying not to feel sick. I have been particularly ill this week and I was hoping to forget about it for a while so I sat outside watching the wind blowing the trees. It reminded me of the power of the wind to move the large trees around and how much like God it is. Unseen, yet powerful. I started to praise God for the wind, the trees and His power to move them all. As I praised, I started to feel better. God reminded me of the power of praise. I don’t simply have to be an observer of God’s power as I watch Him work. I can participate by tapping into His power. The gateway to God’s power is through praise. Jesus taught us that in the Lord’s Prayer. As we lift our hearts in praise we step into the presence of God. Here anything is possible. What do you need today? Healing? Comfort? Joy? Strength? Love? Encouragement? Lift your heart in praise. You will find everything you need. Here is my most favorite song to help you step into the presence of the Lord. He is all you need!
Written Oct 2012: Psalm 84:1-2 speak of God’s dwelling place. It reads, “How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” I have read these verses many, many times. I desire to feel the same way, but yet, I often don’t. This week I realized why. It is important to learn about the God I serve. To read my Bible and understand Who He is, what His character is like, etc. It is a vital element in our relationship. It can be likened to any relationship where you learn about each other. You can sit across the table on a date and ask questions and He can answer those for you. That communication never ends. That learning about someone is never complete. There is always more to know. But it can seem very “arms reach” away. It does not get to the level of intimacy spoken of in the above verses. That comes only in prayer. I can read my Bible everyday and understand more and more about Him, but without prayer, I am still sitting across the table. Now sometimes there can be those superficial prayers, the ones that are said from across the table. They are good. But still not intimate. They really don’t expose me. There is something very different that happens in a relationship when a deeper level of intimacy is reached. That “touch” changes things. When we bare our hearts and souls before God, when we take our clothes off and stand naked before Him, things change. There is no fear before Him. He created me. He knows me. There is nothing base or unholy about it. There is no self consciousness, no guilt, no hiding. Only love and acceptance. If there is something that needs to be confessed, I can do that and immediately restore our relationship. Here I can feel the love of His embrace. I can enjoy His touch.
When Jesus taught us to pray, He started with praise. Praising Him in the Spirit, in this intimate moment, is like making love. There is nothing on earth like the fullness of heart and soul that comes from praising the only One worthy of our worship. And it is all the more intimate when we raise our hands. It just seems that the act of raising our hands opens a level of vulnerability before Him and takes down any reservation that may be there. Here I understand what the psalmist was saying: “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” And later on in the same Psalm (verse 10) he says, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.” Now I get it. There is nothing like this anywhere. Nothing so pure, so completely fulfilling, so personal and intimate as praising Him. This is the one relationship that can truly fill the empty places in my being. The most honest and open communication comes after love making. Holding each other and knowing that there is nothing left to hide, all can be discussed with love and forgiveness flowing freely. Now I can confess and be restored. Now I can seek guidance and petition for those things that I need. Now I can rest in His arms of love and simply enjoy our communion together. Our relationship comes alive when I pray. I can’t have one (Bible reading) without the other (prayer). They work in balance. They compliment each other. They are both parts of the Whole. It is the Bible that tells us that through prayer we can find peace (Phil 4:6-7). It is the Bible that tells us that we can “come boldly before the throne of Grace” (Heb 4:16). It is the Bible that tells us that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). It is the Bible that tells us in 1 Thess 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As long as I have breath, I will praise the Lord (Ps 150:6). And there it is. My heart and my soul cry out for the living God!