Some days I just don't feel it. My day is chaotic, my memory is shot, and my self-esteem is dragging behind me like something stuck on my shoe. What naturally wants to spring out of me is not praise and often not even very spiritual and I want to complain and focus on all the things that are not right. It doesn't take long for a spirit of heaviness and defeat to creep in and subtly begin to steal the joy of my relationship with the Lord. I become so focused on my feelings that I forget to praise because I don't feel it. Does this ever happen to you? I think it's part of being human and living in a flawed, imperfect world.
The good news is that praise is effective whether we feel it or not. Why? Because it realigns our focus on God and away from the things of the world, reminding us that the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Praise is the antidote for despair and hopelessness, the heaviness that can weigh us down every day (Isaiah 61:3). God inhabits our praise; he dwells where praise is offered (Psalm 22:3).
Mostly, though, praise is effective no matter what our feelings because it's not about our feelings. It's not about us at all. It is about giving to the Lord the respect and admiration due him because of who he is. Read through the Psalms - start anywhere - and you will find words of praise offered in every situation in life, right along with the emotions and struggles of those early writers. Consider the life of King David. He was a man after God's own heart - and he was terribly flawed and very human. Even so, and maybe even because of this the words of his psalms and songs to the Lord resonate deeply within all of us. David poured out his heart to God - complaints, confusion, fear, despair, great joy and wonder - and in every situation found reason to focus on the sovereignty and power of God.
The source of our compassion and service is the Lord. Sometimes praise wells up in us because of an answered prayer or other strong emotional experience. Sometimes it is simply a spiritual discipline like reading and memorizing the word, prayer, tithing, etc. It may not always feel good, and at times we may only do it because we know we are supposed to, but consider this. Any time spent in the presence and power of God changes us. So when we don't feel like it, that's when we need to do it the most.
Do it because you need it. Do it because he requires it. Most of all, do it because he deserves it. It will change you every time.
Do you have a favorite praise scripture or song that you use in your quiet time? How has praised changed you and changed your understanding of who God is? When do you find it hardest to praise?