Praise from the Heart

Have you ever thought you knew the definition of a word only to find out that you didn’t really know it at all? I have to laugh at myself because I know I’ve used words improperly only to discover this later on my own. No one corrected me at the time. So, this makes me wonder if they didn’t know the meaning of the word either. The truth is more likely that they were being kind as to not embarrass me! The reason I bring this up is because the word praise falls into that category of words I thought I understood. I'd like to share what I've discovered about praise and how it's a gift to God and to ourselves when we do it. And, I will guide you to create a personal praise prayer from you to God.

Person praisingPraise the Lord, O my soul

What is Praise?

To praise is to recognize the significant worth of that object, person, or event.1 Webster’s definition of praise uses words like magnificence, holiness, excellent, honored, perfect, approved.2 The capability to praise is not limited to humans for the Bible indicates all that exists praises God. In the Book of Revelation, John says the angels praise. In the Psalms, David proclaims creation praises. As for humans, throughout God’s word there are songs or prayers of praise from people such as Mary, Zechariah, Moses, and David. They couldn’t contain their wonder over God’s magnificence and holiness. These songs and prayers are lengthy and meaningful expressions of a heart-felt awe and love for God and contain much more than a “thank you, God”. If you were to read the praises of those mentioned above, you can find five elements in each one. First, they acknowledge God as Sovereign Lord using different types of descriptors and then they address His mercy, power, provision, and faithfulness. They identify God’s attributes and how it impacted or is impacting their life. Interestingly, if you were to recite the Lord’s Prayer, you can find many of these elements contained within it as well. Each one of the elements assigns worth to what He has done, is doing, and will do for them and with them.

RainbowWhat’s Happening When We Praise?

We are turning our focus to God.

We are giving God credit for what’s happening in our life. Yes, even for those things allowed by God that hurt and try us. The hurt and the trial change us but sometimes the very things that hurt us gives us an opportunity to help those who must endure such things as we’ve experienced. It's a chance to  offer hope.

We are humbling ourselves as children of the Lord Almighty. We are acknowledging His power and sovereignty. We are recognizing our need for His mercy and that He is our provider.

We are remembering His faithfulness in the past, relying on it in this day, and proclaiming a belief in it for the future. Any and all unknowns for us are always known to God.

It's a love offering. We are offering a heart-devoted. We are offering an intentional love. We are offering a determined trust. 

 

Woman praisingWhat is Happening When we Don’t Praise?

There are things that hurt us so badly we can’t praise and we don’t have to praise God for those things. When we can’t praise God, we can still reach out to Him and offer our devastated heart into His compassion-filled hands. He can give us such a comforting peace found nowhere else. We can share with Him our brokenness so we may be healed and restored. 

There are other times when we can praise, but don’t. Why? Is it because we’re too busy? Are we taking God for granted or crediting our own efforts? Are we failing to meditate on God's very present presence? I think it’s just forgetfulness. While we’re more likely to praise God for the “big” things that he works out, life is made of small things, small events. I am missing out on God’s faithful work in my life when I fail to be mindful and recognize how He is works daily, even hourly, on my behalf. The little things add up and, over time, I have a personal history of God’s faithfulness to me that empowers me like nothing else. To miss the small stuff makes me weak. I need to remember and acknowledge because the enemy wants me to forget. In this world where I get to control very little, I do get to control this much—choosing to mediate on God’s faithfulness so I can create and offer extravagant praise to my Lord. He deserves it!

Horse praisingHow Does God's Creation Praise the Lord?

Mary and David’s Songs of Praise

The praise songs of Mary and David are an intentional out-pouring of their love and worship of God. David’s praise is full of action verbs telling the reader to remember, give thanks, publish, tell, honor and so on. David’s praise proclaims that heaven and every bit of earth’s creation praises God. This is a man, a king, who holds back nothing from his God. He showers God with full-on extragant praise.

When we read  Mary’s praise song, her words share a humbleness, joy, and a remembrance of God’s power and provision. Contained within both praise songs are powerful encouragement. When I read these songs of praise, I can’t help but be moved by their trust and hope in the Lord. Mary and David are only two of the many people who praise is recorded in the Bible. Paul and Silas sang songs in prison. Whether it was worship or praise they kept their hope and faith alive by offering their hope-filled hearts to God. That’s what praise does—it encourages, it empowers, it lifts our eyes up, it finds hope in emptiness. 

I seek to be a woman who praises God as often as possible. That hasn't always been the case. My focus was blurred and I missed God's presence. You know why I decided to change? Because my heart failed to thrive. It was dark, overgrown with bitterness, sadness, and the soil was dry. Nothing good to grow in my heart. When I intentionally decided to look for God's presence in my trials, I saw opportunities to praise. When I seek to find Him, you bet I do and I praise His faithfulness! God deserves my praise and I want to give it to Him. And when I do, I get a gift as well. My heart opens and I get even more of what makes me thrive: light, love, peace, joy....

Bluets-1353172_1280 (2)

Create a Praise Prayer

If you've never created a praise prayer, I encourage you to try it and use it as a beautiful start to your day or to enter your night’s rest. There’s no formula to praise God. All you need is the love in your heart for Him, but if you’d like a little direction on writing a prayer I’ll share a few tips.

Start with a statement acknowledging God as Lord and describe what makes Him Lord. Example: Heavenly Father, holy, majestic Lord. There is no other God but you.

Include a statement on why God’s presence in your life is so important to you. Example: God, you are my wisdom, my protector, and my security.

Identify His faithfulness in your life. Example: Jesus, you gave me courage during…and provided what I couldn’t for myself. I know you’ll give me that same courage in this day.

Tell Him why you want His mercy and grace. This statement relays your humbleness.

Most importantly, praise is about love. Tell God why you love him and what He means to you. That’s exactly what Mary and David did. You can be certain that God loves to receive your love and your praise prayer is a gift from your heart to Him.

Praise is a Gift!

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)Praise encourages your heart when you acknowledge God’s faithful activity in your life.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)Praise is an intimate act, an offering from your heart to your Lord and Savior.

I hope praise permeates your life! I welcome your thoughts and comments. Thank you for sharing this post and being such a faithful community. Fondly, Terri

References

1 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

2 Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary


Changing Seasons

Originally broadcast as a Facebook Live Event on April 15, 2018 @TerriHutchinsonAuthor page (Hearts Encouraged). This post includes the dialogue as well as Self-Encouragement Tips found at the end of this post.

Hello and Welcome to Heart Lift! Today, I’m bringing you a Heart Lift to encourage, inspire, fortify, refresh your heart and mind. Today’s Heart Lift centers on the verses from Isaiah 58:11, the New Living Translation.

The Lord will guide you continually giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.

This verse comes to my mind as I listen to the personal stories of women and men who are pouring out of themselves to the point of soul-dehydration. What I mean is they are giving their time, energy, love, care, or emotions so much so they are becoming depleted. Some examples include the caregiver that’s becoming physically and emotionally exhausted or the parent whose heart is intensely hurting for their child.  We can get in a state of soul-dehydration because we aren’t being filled as we pour out.

Water pouring

Another form of soul dehydration is an emptiness within our heart. It can happen because life wears us down. It can happen as we endure a long stress-filled season or with an ongoing battle with fear and anxiety. Soul dehydration occurs when we lose hope. And, it happens when we wonder if God sees us, hears us, or cares one bit for us. I'm here to tell you God sees, hears, and cares for you! We can trust our Lord to restore what has been poured out. When you go to the only Source that restores, revives, and refreshes, you will find a safe place. A place of rest.

Seasons 1I want to share with you some things I’ve learned from my season of depletion that is transforming into a season of restoration. First, some background information—in 2014, my husband and I stepped out in faith purchasing land, then building a house in South Carolina. Throughout the process God blessed our steps. Moving forward to July 2017, we felt it was time to move our lives to South Carolina. This would mean living and working in a new state, a new community, and require me to follow Jesus adventurously. As I embarked on this adventure, my deepest desire then, and now, and is to be surrendered, living in a state of intentional trust as the process unfolds.

Being adventurous with Jesus sounds fantastic at the start until you get into the heart of it and you start to feel lost. You wonder if you and God are on the same path anymore. As the weeks and months passed by, staying steadfast, in resolute trust that God was in control became difficult. By December 2017, the waiting led to wondering that led to questions, doubts, and fears. In my plan, there was no waiting. I had everything falling into line, with the timing of events occurring seamlessly. I’m certain your laughing right now saying, “Really, Terri?” Yes, that was silly of me but then that's me. Soon enough I would realize God’s plan, unlike mine, had waiting written all through it.

The reason the waiting is hard is because waiting chips away at our trust in God's plan, timing, and control. Though I’m committed to trusting God there have been days I’m not sure I have the strength to remain encouraged and surrendered.

By the time January 2018 rolled around, I started wondering if this adventure was less about moving to South Carolina and more about winning a spiritual battle of trust over doubts and fears. One thing is certain, God’s faithfulness is written all over my life and I feel strongly that He deserves my trust. I determined in my heart to win this battle pushing through obstacles and trampling fears. Staying strong, in intentional trust, surrendered to God’s timing,  left me spiritually dehydrated and depleted. I have been using internal resources to win the battle of trust over fear and anxiety.

So, what would you tell me now that I’ve confessed this? I think you would say, “Terri, you know you can’t win a spiritual battle on your own. Why didn’t you ask God for His strength to fill you, to help you stand firm? Would you believe me if I said I forgot? I don’t know why I come to have this untimely “amnesia” when life ramps up and stress increases. Who wouldn’t ask for the things Jesus says is available to me: rest, peace, or carrying my burdens. I want my soul refreshed and renewed. Thank goodness for changing seasons!

Relaxing

There’s a new season on the way, a season of rest and refreshment. What has changed? Two things. I’ve finally awakened to the fact that the Lord has been waiting to fill my heart and to refresh my energy stores. Second, I changed my perspective, my focus. With my family now in South Carolina while I remain in Ohio, my responsibilities have diminished. I’m living with friends who are graciously housing me until details are finalized. It’s a place of peace, a respite. Life has gotten simpler. My pace has slowed. The change in my perspective from what isn’t happening to what is happening has caused me to see what God is doing for me. Seeing it, I'm able to accept this season of rest as the gift God intends it to be. Am I still waiting on God’s plan to unfold? Yes. I’m still fighting the urge to doubt and question our decisions and steps that brought us to this point. But, I’m intent on receiving and enjoying this brief time of rest that God has written into His plan for my life.

Let me emphasize this point: the moment I ask Him, God gives me what I need. The only One who is able to replenish my soul and help me stand strong is Him. I am so very thankful God deeply desires to partner with me, with you too, as we move through difficult seasons.

Seasons 2I wonder if you’ve experienced a season of rest or restoration after a difficult time? For example, have you received strength in spite of what were capable of? Or, maybe you received a boost of courage that you didn’t think possible. Perhaps, it was a profound sense of peace.

What we need to remember is there is no one, but God, who knows our life, our heart, our cares. He delights in you and is ready to refresh your soul the very moment you ask. Yet, asking is just the first step. If you ask for it, then anticipate it. The act of anticipating opens your spiritual eyes and ears as well as your heart to receive God’s provision. You don’t know the form or the way your need will be met, but you want to be in a mode of anticipating, a state of readiness, so you’re open to receive it.

You, dear friends, have an invitation from God for a never-ending conversation. No concern or need is too unimportant to share with God. So, share! To close, let your heart be lifted and your soul quenched by this refreshing truth.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)You are a delight to the Lord

He is living life with you

He concerns Himself with your troubles

He is ever ready to meet your needs

He hears your unique voice 

If you are interested in activating your inner encourager, see below for tips on how to be a self-encourager. Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need encouraged!

Tips for Becoming a Self-Encourager

One way I engage in self-encouragement is to find nourishment from God’s word. I search for a heart lifting gem in the Bible and then transform it into a digestible nugget that feeds my soul. For example, I take a verse like Psalm 31:7-8 and write it into a simple narrative, or I might bullet point it. Then, I add a picture that further embeds the verses or truths into my heart. I put it in a place that is easy for me to access or see. For example,

Woman

I have God’s unfailing love

God concerns Himself with my life.

He is ever ready to meet my needs,

calm my fears, and tend to my trouble.

He hears my unique voice.

I matter to God.

Psalm 31:7-8

See how I've reworded this verse in a form that helps me digest it and, receive it into my heart and mind so it can stick! I think that’s the main thing – determining how can you get the encouragement to stick with you.

Once you have created these encouragement gems for your use, then its easy to take this self-encouragement and gift it to someone else. When you’ve been through difficult times, you can see the signs in another woman or man. If they’re struggling with a current life experience that exhausting and depleting their soul, your encouragement may be the heart lift they need.

Another tip is to keep encouragement verses very close to you. I have two verses under my work computer screen that only I can see. I have one in my wallet. I have one in my car. The purpose is to have it handy so that when I feel a surge of overwhelm, fear, or anxiety then I have an immediate remedy. A sniff of lavender oil helps, too.

I hope these tips help you be a strong self-encourager! My prayer is that your heart sings with the knowledge that God is with you and for you! Believe it!