Summer can be a difficult time to maintain healthy and consistent spiritual rhythms. Travel takes us away from our authentic communities and different schedules make it harder to spend our usual alone time with God. As we move into the fall, it’s important that we take some time to look at some crucial spiritual practices and reset our rhythms for them. The first practice that we’re looking at is resetting our rhythm of worship.
Read Psalm 135.
The overarching theme in this Psalm is praise; the psalmist is calling God’s people to worship. A lot of times, we can think of “praise” and “worship” in a church or uniquely Christian setting, but the true definition of praise is a lot broader than that. Praise is esteeming something’s value or worth, usually audibly and often corporately. When we realize that praise is simply esteeming something’s value, we realize that we’re praising almost constantly. The question isn’t if we praise or worship, the question is what we praise or worship.
Question: What do you praise? What do you find yourself praising with others in your community?
This is a crucial question. In verses 15–18, the psalmist spends some time talking about the idols of the nations and what the culture praises.
Read Psalm 135.18.
This is an incredibly important point. The psalmist is saying that what we praise is what we become. Whatever it is that we most value, most delight in, and most esteem is what we will become like in our hearts. Verse 18 is a warning from the psalmist; he’s saying that most things in this world don’t have life in them, and if we praise those things, we’ll slowly lose the abundant life that God has given us. If we praise money, we’ll feel that we never have enough. If we praise beauty, we’ll constantly see imperfections. If we praise intellect, we’ll never feel smart enough. If we praise being liked, we’ll always feel insecure in our identities.
Question: What “idol of the nation” do you have a tendency to praise, value, and esteem? How have you seen it affecting your God-given life?
Because so much is at stake when it comes to who or what we praise, the Psalm 135 goes on to talk about the many reasons that God is worthy of our praise. We’ll look at three of these reasons in greater depth.
1. We worship God because He is infinitely worthy.
Verse 3 tells us to “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good.” This is a direct testament to God’s character. At His very core, He is good—He is trustworthy. He can be relied upon, and He is a perfect Father to His children. There may be questions that we will never have answers to, but we can hold on to the knowledge that God sent His only Son to die for us and forgive us of our sins so that we can have eternal life with Him. This is the very essence of a good God who is infinitely worthy of our praise!
2. We worship God because of His good works toward us.
In verse 4, the psalmist talks about not just who God is, but what He’s done. Verse 4 is a reminder to the Israelite readers of this Psalm that God made a promise to them to enter into a covenant relationship with Him where they will become His treasured possession. We can see the good works of God in Jesus, who gave His life for us so that we can live fully in Him. And this salvation is only the beginning of the good work we’ll see in our lives; God will continue to make us new and bring healing, courage and restoration to broken places in our lives.
Question: Where have you seen God’s work in your life? What good works have you witnessed in the last week or month? Take some time to praise God for these things.
3. We worship God because praise is life-giving.
In verse 3, the psalmist tells us that praise is “pleasant.” He’s saying that praise will bring vibrancy and joy to our lives, that praise is itself a life-giving activity. This brings us back to his warning about becoming like what you praise. It works the opposite way, as well: if we praise the God of life, we will be filled with joyous life as we come alive in Him.
Resetting our worship is important because worship is where life starts. Maybe over the summer we’ve missed worship times at church, or have been a little bit slack on spending time praising God on our own. But it’s so important to reset our rhythms of praise because it has such a drastic effect on every aspect of our lives. It’s important that, as we reset our worship, we realize three things about how we worship and praise God.
1. We worship God through singing, alone or corporately.
Verse 3 tells us to sing praise to God’s name. This isn’t just singing meaningless words, it’s verbally esteeming and valuing God. Many times, we see people raising their hands or kneeling while they’re singing. This is because God calls us to worship Him with all of our heart, mind and strength. Praise is something we do with all of our being—all of our soul and all of our body.
2. Praise isn’t limited to Sunday mornings.
When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, His first sentence was, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” This isn’t a prayer that He told us to pray once a week, but every day. And in the very first sentence, He is hallowing—praising and esteeming—God’s name.
3. Times of need are opportunities to praise.
Praise exists simultaneously with lifting up our needs to God. In fact, every time we have a need to lift up to Him, we have an opportunity to praise Him for who He is. If we are in need of resources, we can praise Him for being a God who provides. If we need wisdom in making a decision, we can praise God because He is a God of infinite wisdom.
Because God is infinitely worthy of our praise, we can praise Him every day and in every situation in which we find ourselves.