Prayers and praises abound in Scripture, especially in Psalms. Sometimes my heart is drawn to those prayers and their message. The words of David or Asaph or Moses or any of the other authors truly reflect I was to say.
But other times I drift away from the example of Scripture in my prayer and in my praise. Especially in my praise.
You see, all too often, my praise focuses on what the Lord has done for me. Don’t get me wrong – He has done much for me. Oh so very much! I can see profound examples of His handiwork every time I look back over my life.
But, there are days when I just do not see it quite so clearly.
Those are the days when everything seems to be going badly. Those are the days when the needs seem to heavily outweigh the provision. Those are the days when none of the options are good. Those are the days when the future seems completely bleak.
I would be lying if I said I could easily praise God for what He has done when I hit days like that.
Sometimes even months.
I always need to ground my prayers in Scripture. But in the difficult times, I need it most. Those are the times when passages like Psalm 92 truly stand out to me. I encourage you to read the whole Psalm, but allow me to pull out just one verse here.
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. Psalm 92:4 NASB
As I look at this verse in the context of Psalm 92, I cannot help but be awakened to the selfishness of my typical praises.
I’ll say it once again: All too often my praise focuses on what the Lord has done for me.
In this verse, though, the psalmist stops with “what You have done.” There is no “for me” tagged on the end. If we truly ponder many of the prayers in Psalms, we see that some do offer personal reflection of what God has done for the psalmist. But, the greatest focus is instead on God’s mighty works in creation as a whole.
God doesn’t just do for me. God DOES.
What a difference that perspective makes!
When we are only focused on what God does for us, our vision becomes narrowed. In fact, it often narrows so much that we cannot even see many of the works of God in our lives. We want the feel-good, make me dance for joy kind of acts of God.
That is not always how He works.
But, His works are always good! Yes, even when they do not feel good.
When we shift our focus to that realization, we see His perspective a little more clearly. We understand His heart a little more strongly. And we discover a bigger picture that encompasses all of creation. We see what a big God we serve! And suddenly, we find joy in His works, even when those works cause growth that hurts.
Yes, Lord, I am thankful for what you have done for me, and for that I will praise You.
But even more, I am thankful for what you have done, because that shows me so much more clearly who You are.
For that, too, Lord, I will praise You!