Put into Practice

All my heart will give thanks to You, Eternal One.
    I will tell others about Your amazing works.
I will be glad and celebrate You!
    I will praise You, O Most High!

Psalm 9:1-2

Isn’t that a marvellous thought? That we would give thanks to God with all our hearts? Some translations say ‘praise God with all my heart’ and that’s equally wonderful. That’s what we were created for: to adore, love, worship, praise, glorify and appreciate God. His works are amazing and knowing Him makes us glad and want to celebrate.

Maybe we don’t always feel like it – let’s be honest sometimes the last thing we feel like doing is giving thanks to God, it might even be we feel we have nothing to give thanks for. That’s why we need to build our lives on and around things that remind us just how much we have to be grateful for.

I love it when my readings harmonise. Abraham, as we read in Genesis, built literal altars everywhere he went. He placed stone on stone and perhaps with each layer he thanked God for safe travels, for fruitful flocks and simply for God’s favour and guidance. Places he stopped at were given names to be memorials of things that had happened. This was a common practice in the past but something we, in our speedy disposable lifestyles, too often forget to look for.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus talked about building on rock or sand. He said if you listen but don’t hear, don’t put into practice you are building on sand. What we need is the rock that comes from listening, hearing and practising what we learn. Practice makes perfect and practice puts calluses on fingers, puts memory into muscles, forms habits and causes automatic responses. It really can be as simple as just doing it over and over to build a life of praise and prayer and giving thanks to God – even when it’s hard.

Practising something so that it becomes instinctual doesn’t make it false. It’s not a lie to praise God when things go badly. He is still worthy of praise amid the worst disaster (or the most wonderful event – and we do forget Him in both).

We sing ‘Your praise will ever be on my lips’ and walk out of the meeting and just forget it. What if His praise was always on our lips? Yes, some might mock us but how many would be influenced by the fact we actually practice what we preach? To see us recognise that God is good all the time and to say so.

That’s part of the psalm I quoted – to tell others about God’s amazing works. Are they amazing? If they are then how can we keep quiet about them when we are so happy to boast in our children’s, partner’s, sports team’s and our own accomplishments?

We have such good news about a God who is just, loving and merciful. A God who does amazing things. Let’s not keep it to ourselves but let everyone see we have hearts full of praise and thanks for a God who is worthy of it all.

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