Continued from here.
The final component of quiet time that Lysa TerKeurst mentioned in a video for her Bible study, Finding I AM: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart, is engaging in praise & worship. While there are other ways to do this, I am a musical person and thoroughly enjoy using music to help with this. I have a library of over 600 Contemporary Christian songs on my iPod, and I choose a few each morning to guide me through my praise & worship time.
Not every Contemporary Christian song focuses on praise (thanking God for what He has done) or worship (admiring God for who He is). Many focus on the Christian walk or experience. While they have their place, I don’t use those during my praise & worship time because I want my mind focused on who God is and what He has done. As I shift my focus onto God, He grows larger in my mind while my problems grow smaller. It’s not that my problems become smaller. Instead, my perspective shifts as I recognition how the size of my God dwarfs the size of my problems.
Left to our natural tendencies, we are all woefully self-focused. As we focus on ourselves, our problems grow larger in our own heads, like the lens of a camera zooming in so that our problems fill the entire frame. Praise & worship shifts the focus of the camera outward so that God fills more of the frame than the problem. That is the correct perspective of life, but we won’t get there without shifting our focus to God, which is why praise & worship are such an important part of our daily quiet time with God.
Even focused praise & worship time for one song (3-4 minutes) can help shift your perspective, shining hope and life into your life, regardless of how large your problems are. This was an important part of surviving my son’s major back surgery in 2015. I could have easily become self-focused because that was a very difficult season in my life. Choosing to set aside lots of time for praise & worship helped me keep God in the frame and believe that He was in control during a time when everything felt out of control.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace singing and playing a guitar. Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Continued from here.
What does an upward focus look like in a Christian’s personal walk with God? For me, it involves setting aside time for God daily so I can shift my focus from myself to Him. I have shared many times on this blog how March 2013 was a pivotal time in my life because that’s when I made the life decision to tithe the first hour of my day to God, no matter what. My life and personality have changed radically since then, and the difference was tithing that hour. I now recognize that my choice to tithe that hour built an upward focus into my daily life, which profoundly transformed my relationship with God.
Before March 2013, I was primarily inward focused. I spent most of my time trying to understand what was wrong with me. I knew I was fundamentally damaged and did not know how to fix it, so I prayed … and I prayed … and I prayed for God to heal me. My prayers were mostly about myself, and the parts that weren’t about me were asking God to do things for other people. Very little (if any) of my prayer time was spent with an upward focus on praising and worshiping God.
I did spend a lot of time reading the Bible, but even my time in the Bible was about looking for answers to my problems. I wanted to figure out how I could be “fixed,” so the way I read the Bible was very inward focused. I looked for myself in the pages of Scripture and missed that what I was reading was about a God who is so much bigger than my brokenness.
Today, my life has a healthy balance of upward focus – not that I do it perfectly, but I weave much more of an upward focus into my daily life. I tithe the first hour of my day to God, which includes prayer, praise & worship, and Bible study. My prayers include praise, worship, thanksgiving, and listening in addition to my requests, and I ask that God’s will be done rather than my own (and mean it). I make a point of thanking God throughout the day, even when things don’t go my way. For example, if I have a computer issue, I thank God for this opportunity to trust Him more (an idea I got from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence). When friends come to me with problems, I remind them that God is bigger and encourage them to pray for wisdom and discernment. As I have added an upward focus to my life, I have grown to love God deeply and experience joy and peace that I never dreamed possible.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace standing in front of the word, “Up.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Continued from here.
I went through a season in which I did not engage much in praise and worship. I didn’t realize how thirsty I was until I attended a Beth Moore Living Proof Live event. I couldn’t get enough of the singing! I soaked in praise & worship like a parched woman who could finally drink in as much as I wanted.
Praise (focusing on what God has done) and worship (focusing on who God is) are powerful ways to get your focus off Why? and How? and onto Who? Brian Johnson of Bethel Music put it best. I was unable to locate the quote online, but when I heard him speak live at a conference, he said that praise & worship are the anesthesia for the Word’s surgery.
Think about the implications of praise & worship being anesthesia. Why do people drink alcohol, take drugs, overeat, overspend, and overindulge in numerous other ways? They are seeking to anesthetize themselves from pain. That’s why I binged on food for so many years. Binge eating enabled me to “stuff down” the pain so I didn’t have to feel it for a little while. Unfortunately, the pain would always come back, and then I also had to deal with the aftermath of having abused my body
Praise & worship provide us with anesthesia for our pain without the drawbacks! There’s no “downside” to praising & worshiping God. As we choose to focus our thoughts on what God has done and on who He is, we pull our focus off our problems and pain, giving us relief as we draw near to God.
Whenever I am feeling depressed or frustrated, I force myself to engage in praise & worship. While this does not require music, I am musical by nature, so singing praise & worship songs is the best anesthesia for me. I previously shared some of the songs I turn to when I am struggling emotionally. Those songs help me take my mind off my problems and focus on God, which always makes me feel better – not always in the moment, but soon. Remember that we reap what we sow, so planting seeds of praise & worship helps us sow a harvest of joy and peace.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding up her hands and saying, ”Amen.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]