I like to stay fit, so if I need to visit a second or third-floor office, I take the stairs. If it is higher than the third floor, I use the elevator. When it comes to experiencing the presence of God in worship, it sometimes seems as though we start several floors below Him and need an elevator.
God has provided a simple discipline that helps us rise above our everyday struggles and lethargy to enter into worship—thanksgiving.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth. (Ps. 57:9-11)
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations. (Ps. 100:4-5)
Notice the worship words in the passages: Thanksgiving, praise, blessing and exaltation. I’m not sure whether the psalmists intended it, but there is a progression. The focus moves from what we do, to who He is. We enter into worship by taking our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances and fixing them on God. Thanksgiving helps us do that.
Thanksgiving is simple—start at the top of the list of things He has done and express your gratitude.
Praise goes with thanksgiving; it is like boasting about who God is, often in song. The psalmists mention His lovingkindness (or steadfast love), which means His rock solid commitment to His people. The word truth really points to loyalty. Those are just two of God’s wonderful attributes.
Blessing means to wish good things on someone. The “name” of God represents every part of His nature. When we bless God’s name, we are acknowledging that He deserves the best. The word bless (barakhu) is related to the word for kneeling (Ps. 95:6). Our blessing of God comes from a place of humility. Knelt before Him (figuratively or literally) we have the awesome privilege of exalting Him above the heavens with our praises.
It can be hard to launch straight into high praises of God if our week consisted of tension and trials that required us to dig deep into ourselves. Adoration of God is a quieter, inner enjoyment of His presence and His voice—difficult when one’s ears are still throbbing with the screaming demands of a turbulent life. Thanksgiving is easier; it’s a simple choice to reflect on God’s goodness and provision.
So, next time you’re headed for a meeting with God, press the button of thanksgiving. Allow the doors to slide shut on the clamor of distractions behind you. As you appreciate all His blessings, you will find thanksgiving lifting you toward praise and adoration.