BY Liv Dooley
There are days when prayer feels heavy and nearly impossible to enjoy. In fact, there are days when it feels like everything within me rebels against the opportunity. Prayer is where we communicate with our Maker, friend, and Savior. It’s where gratitude, frustration, excitement, and disappointment all mingle in a mixed bag of emotions.
Thankfully, those emotions don’t have to overpower our ability to communicate with the Father. Through the book of Psalms, we find that praise is a form of prayer. And the good news is we don’t have to feel good to meditate on God’s goodness.
God knew there would be days we would struggle to pray, as did the psalmist in Psalm 146. That is why praise is such a powerful tool to use in prayer. It helps us take our eyes off our situations and redirect them to the Lord’s sovereignty.
I distinctly remember the day I learned the power of praise. I prepared to leave the gym feeling disappointed that my time spent exercising had done nothing to boost my mood. While packing my bag, my eyes gravitated to a woman with the most glorious curls. To my chagrin, she looked. Embarrassed that I had been caught staring, I raised my voice over the roar of the machines to compliment her hair.
My day improved almost immediately. But more importantly, my attention shifted away from everything wrong to the few beautiful things remaining.
If a simple compliment can produce such profound results, how much more can it do for us when we offer those compliments to our Creator? Prayer can often feel unbearable when we’re overburdened with negative emotions. However, it is possible to push through when we redirect our attention to the reality that God is faithful. Praise renews our perspective.
In Psalm 146, the psalmist captures the importance of praise by encouraging everyone to praise the Lord while commanding his soul to do the same. The more we read, the more we realize our ability to communicate about how good God is is not contingent upon our circumstances. The psalmist shares that people will disappoint us in their humanity (Psalm 146:3–4). Yet he contrasts people’s limitations with the limitless One by reminding us that our hope lies in the eternal God, who is as consistent on the good days as the bad.
Praise reinforces our revelation of God as we remember that His reign will last forever.
It also reminds us that praise is not always a result of our present circumstances. Praise is produced in the presence of the Almighty. And the good news is it is available to anyone who will elevate His name above their emotions. Psalm 146 teaches us that the more we praise, the more we recognize God’s power amid our pain. And sometimes, it is all the prayer we need.