Last year I wrote about prayer; this year's book's topic is praise. The title is Praise Patterns: Magnifying God with Mary of Nazareth. Two weeks ago, I sent my manuscript to my publisher, and I'm ready to show you a little preview. This is the first page of chapter one.
For You are great and perform wonders;
You alone are God. (Psalm 86:10)
Day One PROCLAIM
Would you reply to a love note with a shopping list? Would a Valentine prompt you to demand assistance with household chores? Would you pause to express a word of thanks or offer a smile before pointing out the honey-do list on the fridge? Your bookshelf—or perhaps your nightstand—holds a love letter to you from God—your Bible. How do you respond to His words?
I asked myself these questions and I came to the conclusion that I am a self-centered lover of God. I read His Word and immediately present Him with a list of my problems. I know He wants to hear whatever is on my heart, and I certainly need His help and provision, but He is my Savior and my Provider, and He deserves to hear my thanksgiving. The trouble is, I'm so easily distracted by my own needs. I need a pattern for praise—and I found one in the book of Luke. One of the most well-known Biblical prayers, it was spoken by a very familiar woman: Mary of Nazareth, mother of Jesus.
And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed,
because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy.
His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.
He has done a mighty deed with His arm;
He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts;
He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy,
just as He spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever.
Mary proclaimed God's mighty power, His salvation, and His awareness of His people. She rejoiced in the holiness, mercy, provision and faithfulness of the Most High God. She saw that God was involved in the lives of His people, doing unexpected things for lowly people and satisfying the hunger of their hearts. This is the essence of praise: expressing our gratitude to God for who He is and what He does. The root of our English word “praise” is a Latin word that means “price” or “value.” When we praise God we express His worth. Biblical praise terms include “glory,” “blessing,” “thanksgiving” and “hallelujah.”
Mary's praise demonstrates that she knew God intimately. She described God's name as holy: unique and perfect. If we want to praise more frequently, we need to know God better. As we examine this prayer we will look at the names of God she mentioned or suggested. We will remember the way God proclaimed His name in the Old Testament, see Jesus reveal the name in the New Testament, and respond to God's name as the Holy Spirit prompts us to spiritual growth.
Can you hear the awe and wonder in Mary's praise? The word “wonderful” is an everyday word to us, but it was one of the names the prophet Isaiah used to describe the Messiah:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)
As you read and meditate on Mary's words, think about the ways God has been Wonderful to you and the things that amaze you as you read His word and look at His creation.
Praise Patterns will be available for purchase in about a month.