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Nov 28, 2019 51 0 Lyrissa Sheptak
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You are created for a Reason

Medley of Voices 

Life can be peculiar. Some days I seem to be making progress but more often than not I feel like I am spinning my wheels. I can have a day of perfect serenity and productivity, yet it is swiftly followed by an exhausting week, riddled with issues that bring me to my knees. There are rarely long-standing periods of peace in my life. Fragments of tranquility occasionally last for a few days but, generally, they are mere snatched moments. Again and again I find myself beseeching the Lord for a favor or another chance. I wonder what it sounds like to God. The medley of voices praying, promising, whispering desperately. However, I know they get through because I have seen His work in my life. It is undeniable. God answers prayers—not always the way I would prefer but God’s guiding presence and response is unarguable. 

I do not think any of us take issue with the idea of giving thanks to our creator. We are taught to count our blessings and it is a common practice for many. But do you know what is more uncommon in my daily life? Praise.

Why and How? 

So, what is praise? The Catholic Catechism explains praise as two-fold: theology and economy. Theology discusses the mystery of God’s life. Through liturgy, prayer and adoration, and with the help of the Saints, we can cultivate a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord and begin to understand His heart. Economy is to know the works of God, the way He shows Himself, or what He does, which is clearly found in Sacred Scripture. Thus, to be able to praise fully we need to study sacred scripture and set aside time for Christ in order to understand His heart.

Just as we put in quality time developing relationships with friends—learning about their families, childhoods, likes and dislikes—we should sojourn with our Lord to make Him our best friend. The more we know Him the better we can trust and understand His plan. What does this have to do with praise? Everything.

I am not sure about others but many times I feel at a loss about how to offer praise. I used to think it was just a glorified way of thanking God with catch phrases such as “Praise Jesus,” “Glory to God” or “Hallelujah.” They are good examples of praise but I discovered that there is more to it. I had a difficult time wrapping my head around it all until I heard it put this way.

Think of little Johnny playing a soccer game. He is doing really well so we praise him by saying, “Good job, Johnny! You’re great!” But little Johnny looks at us confused: “Great for what?” We need to get specific and declare little Johnny’s deeds. We praise him for his fancy head shot and goal. Little Johnny finally understands. In the case of praising God, He understands but we are the ones who need to fully realize how essential our relationship with Him is to our well-being. If we are going to praise God we need to get specific. Why is praise so important?

A Deeper Understanding

I actually bought a book to answer this question, and it completely changed the way I approach situations in my life. This is the underlying thesis of “Praise God and Thank Him” by Catholic International speaker Jeff Cavins: We were created to praise God and we should do it incessantly. It should constantly be on our minds and upon our tongues. In fact, if we are asking God for help we should be praising Him first, so our daily prayers should begin with praise. 

We can learn this lesson from the Old Testament. In Judges, when the 12 tribes prepared for battle they asked God which tribe should enter battle first. The question is posed in both Judges 1:1 and 20:18, “Who shall go up first for us to do battle?” God answered them saying “Judah shall go up first.” 

Judah was the largest tribe. It was the tribe David came from and hence Judah was the line of Jesus. Judah, or Yehuda in Hebrew, means “praised.” God instructed that praise should go first. In the face of our conflicts in life—medical, financial, relationships—praise should be our first weapon. It does not mean that we never have to do battle. It simply means that praise goes hand in hand with facing troubles. When we encounter strife with the greatness of God upon our tongues, we never battle alone. 

Yehuda, with the root word yadah, also means “to confess.” When we praise, we declare or confess God’s greatness. It also means “confession.” We should confess our sins so we can shed the added burden of sin which weighs us down, hindering us in our tussles with troubles. Cavins urges us to wear praise like a garment “instead of a spirit of despair.” 

Through our daily medley of prayers and whispered petitions, let us not forget that our part in our relationship with Christ is to grow deeper in union with Him. Through all our blessings, praise Him. Through all the heartbreak and difficult times, praise Him. As we wake each morning and put on the armour of God and the garment of praise, may we strive to enter into each of our daily battles declaring God’s glory. We were created to praise Him and when we do we will see God’s grace bear fruit in our lives. 

Lord God, we praise and thank You for creating us so wonderfully well. Impress Your will in our hearts and Your praise on our lips that we may constantly grow in your love. Amen.

Lyrissa Sheptak

Lyrissa Sheptak is a writer who contributes regularly to Nasha Doroha, a Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League magazine. As well, she is a member of the Spiritual Committee for the UCWLC National Executive. She lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband and four children.

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