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I WILL PRAISE THE LORD AS LONG AS I LIVE

PRAISE IS A NATURAL phenomenon which every rational creature loves to receive. Praise permeates human psychology. In Chinua Achebe’s book “Things fall apart,” Okonkwo the village wrestler got motivated by the praise sound of the African flute (Oja). Politicians, artists, philanthropists and organizers feel inspired, and motivated when they are praised. The last time I attended an African party, I saw how dignitaries were praised and honoured. But a Priest who was invited and honoured at the same ceremony almost left the arena angry. I termed his anger, a positive anger. He scolded the Emcee for his misplacement of priorities. According to the Priest, “Praise and worship songs to God should take precedence before any other things.”

According to him, “Praise brings down God’s presence, power and provision.” However,praise can be in form of thanksgiving, adoration, and worship. Praise of God ought to take precedence in our daily activities. Start and end your day with the praise of God on your lips; thanking Him for the gift of life. Start your success story with praise and also your failures with praise. Job even in the midst of affliction continued to praise God (Job 1:21-22). He did not spend his time complaining, he rather spent it in praising God.

Psalm 150:1-6 gives us reasons why we ought to always praise God. It encourages that we should praise God for His mighty deeds and according to his excellent greatness! It went further to inform us that our gifts, talents and abilities can be used in praising God. David praised God with his musical and poetic skills. Thus, you too can praise God with your voice, dancing steps (Ps.149:3), smiles, beauty and energy.

Cultivating a praise worthy attitude is crucial in a Christian’s life. The Scripture instructs us to come before God, not only with thanksgiving, but also with songs of praise (cf.Psalm 95:2). The Church in her wisdom has given us all we need in order to praise God. The sacrifice of the Holy mass is a prayer of praise to God the Father, thanking him for allowing His only son Jesus Christ to die, for our redemption and sanctification (cf.Phil.2:7). In the Holy mass, we say ‘Gloria in excelsis’ for our merciful Father, our loving Creator, Our great provider and Our protector. Nevertheless, the Priest is our “Alter Christus” (ccc. 1548), through him we continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name (cf.Heb 13:15).         

In our world today, most Christians are ashamed of praising God. As I travelled down to the East last year for Christmas, a woman beside me sighed when I began a praise and worship song after the prayer. Guess what? She felt that it’s a waste of time, because she needed to continue with her social networking chart. Her attitude did not discourage me. As I went on with the praise and worship songs, the spirits of the passengers were highly lifted to the extent that they began a positive struggle of the praise and worship songs. The journey was smooth, interesting and Spirit-filled. We did not know when we reached our final destination. Many commented saying, “This is the happiest travelling experience of my life.” One Miss Anthonia said, “There is joy in the presence of God.” The driver came down and said, “Wine, women, and secular music have not given me the level of consolation I received, through today’s Divine praises and worship.”

It is hard to be sad or depressed when you are praising God. The sadness and depression often seem to evaporate in the process. One Mr. Agba who travelled with us opened up saying, “I entered this bus with a heart full of worries, but now I’m relieved from my grief.” He went on singing the song, “Because He lives–by Bill Gaither.” He was surprised when I told him that I am a Catholic. His default position was that Catholics doesn’t sing, but that incidence changed his conception completely.

Beloved, the voice of our praise is never silent. Praise has the ability to shut the mouth of the enemy permanently.Paul and Silas prayed and the chains of the prison were destroyed (Act.16:24-25). When thrown in the lion’s den, Daniel prayed to God in praises and the lion’s became powerless (Dan.6:1-28). When Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego were thrown into the burning furnace, they prayed to God in praises, and the angel of the Lord came down and they began to dance inside the furnace unhurt (cf.Dan.3:23). The walls of Jericho collapsed at the sounding of the trumpets, and with the army’s shouts of praise (Josh 6:19-21).

Praise is a shared life with God. We cannot grow in our Christian spirituality unless we make praise part and parcel of our daily exercise and meditation. When we praise God, we join the celestial choirs of Angel in praising an all loving, merciful and benevolent God. A God that does not demand anything in return for His act of benevolence, but only demands praise and thanksgiving. The Scripture recorded that,if humans cannot praise him enough, He is ready to lift up “stones” that would cry out in praise and worship to Him (cf.Lk.19:40). David knew how powerful God’s praise is. Psalm 103 contains David’s praise of God’s sustenance, forgiveness and protection. David affirmed his conviction of God’s praise when in Psalm 146:2 said, “I will praise the Lord as long as I live.” He almost danced naked while praising God (2 Sam 6:20). He did not allow pride, circumstances or gossips to deter him from praising God. Through praise, David won the heart of men, most especially, the heart of God.

Testimonies are always on the lips of those who praise God. The Saints bore witness to God’s praise. St. Stephen did not feel the pains of stone been thrown at him, instead he died with heavenly songs on his lips while being stoned. The martyrs of Uganda who were burnt alive died singing and smiling, with the praise of God on their lips. St. Polycarp, when put into a burning fire, raised his voice in praise and instead of his body burning, a sweet fragrance arose from the furnace. He was later pierced with a spear.

Dear Reader, in the time of trial, trouble and temptation, I urge you not only to dive into the sea of prayer, but to emerge yourself in an ocean of praise which is the sea of the boundless love, blessings and mercy of God. No wonder why St. Augustine posits that, “He who sings well, prays twice.”

-PASCHAL CHISOM OBI

SCHOENSTATT FATHERS IBADAN

 


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