We now celebrate Friendsgiving before Thanksgiving. It is a time where we honor and cherish the meaningful friendships in our life. Then, there is Thanksgiving. We recount all of the many ways we are blessed and the myriad outpourings of goodness. So often on Thanksgiving, I realize how easily I get out of the habit of expressing thanks to God and to all those around me. The reminders to cherish our friends and be thankful people help correct my perspective that so easily is consumed by being productive.
So what’s next?
During this period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I want to suggest a new tradition, Praisegiving. Praise is a cousin to thanks but is also very different. I thank someone for what they do; I praise them for who they are. The Psalms are filled with the call to praise the Lord. The last five psalms all begin and end with the phrase, “Praise the Lord.” The final psalm, Psalm 150, begins each line, “Praise the Lord,” until the final line, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” Praise is fundamental to a healthy relationship. When we praise our children, our spouse, or our best friend we express how special they are to us. Withholding praise is like withholding love. Praising God also serves to right-size our relationship with Him. He is great. We are small. We breathe the breath He gives us.
I confess that praising God does not come naturally to me, which is why, perhaps, I am suggesting this new tradition. In those rare times when I am caught up in praise, usually during worship, my eyes lift up to Him and for a brief time, I forget myself. I am not worried or anxious when my heart is full of praise. Praise and joy go hand in hand.
This December, praise will be my theme. During this month in which we celebrate God’s magnificent humbling for our sake, I will praise His glorious love. I will praise Him for His kindness. I will praise Him for His suffering for our sake. I will praise Him for His beautiful creation.
Since praise does not come naturally to me, I have thought of several ways to build my praise muscles.
1) Read the last five psalms every day.
2) Memorize the short Psalm 150.
3) Begin each day of prayer with praise.
4) Write a short psalm of praise.
5) Practice praising those around me.
6) Create a praise playlist for the month.
7) Keep a running list for the month of reasons to praise God.
Pick one or two and give them a try this month. Or add your own praise exercise.
How might my character change if I devoted one month a year to becoming a person filled with praise? How might my relationship with God grow deeper as I consciously magnify Him? I hope to find out.