3 September 2012Exodus 15:1-18
"The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him." (v. 2)
This community hymn focused on God and celebrating God's spectacular victory over Pharaoh and his army is still included in Jewish hymn books and used in daily prayers.
It includes powerful imagery as the events of the escape across the Red Sea (Exodus 14) are remembered and God's intervention to save the people of Israel is celebrated.
In our worship my experience is that we frequently find praising God and celebrating the work of God in saving us through prayer quite difficult. In general we can find it much easier in prayer to ask God for things than to praise God. As a result our prayers of praise so often turn into personal prayers of thanks.
When it comes to coming up with words of praise ourselves maybe we struggle to find words, hence the all too often "Lord, you are just amazing and Lord you are just wonderful and Lord you are just ...". Perhaps a challenge for us today is that we are less sure than the Israelites about what we want to praise God for. Perhaps some of the things we feel we should be praising God for seem too ancient or remote. In contrast when the people joined Moses in singing this hymn they seem to have been absolutely clear why they wanted to praise God and clearly described God's actions.
Maybe we too find it easier to sing our praises than to offer them as prayers. Certainly there are many popular hymns of praise in most hymn and song books, although I wonder if there is a tendency for these to be about our feelings rather than God's actions.
Finally, I wonder how much influence our environment has. Do people in cities, immersed in human creations find it more difficult to praise God than those in wilder locations?
- Do you find praising God difficult? What makes it difficult for you?
- What do you most like to praise God for and why?
- Are daily traditions such as the same prayer or hymn of praise helpful for you? Spend some time thinking about why you feel this.
- How might we help each other praise God more and better?