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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, May 1, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

To God all glory, praise, and love
be now and ever given
by saints below and saints above,
the church in earth and heaven.

“O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (v. 5) by Charles Wesley
Hymn 610, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

I used to occasionally attend worship at a church with a very different style from Fourth Church. The service would begin with twenty minutes of praise music. It made me uncomfortable. I thought maybe it was because I was never quite able to clap on beat or sway in the right direction. But it’s probably more than that. In my secret heart I wondered if God were truly all that the praise songs proclaimed—mighty, wonderful, our refuge and strength—then why would God need my praise? A needy god does not fit with my understanding of God. Why all the praise songs? Why all the praise psalms? From what I can tell, praise is an essential part of faith.

Unfortunately there aren’t any loopholes when it comes to praise. I don’t get to take a break just because I’m having a bad day or year. I am instructed to praise God regardless of my current feelings or situation.

I’ve come to realize that my praise doesn’t change God, but it certainly changes me. If I list three things for which I can praise God, my mood lifts ever so slightly. (Three is my magic number. One is too easy, and three stretches me.) Three things and I begin to focus on what is instead of what isn’t. Three adjectives and I reframe my current situation. I praise God because I know in the depths of my heart that God is all those wonderful adjectives in the songs and psalms. It’s me who forgets—not God. Praise reminds me.

Magnificent, holy, tender God—you don’t need my off-key singing, my off-beat clapping, or my adjectives of praise but I need to offer them. Remind me of what I know in my secret heart. To you be all glory, praise, and love. Amen.

Written by Andrea Denney, Executive Director of Operational Ministries

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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