Sometimes the strangest thoughts hit me out of the blue. I guess my mind works in mysterious ways. Anyway, yesterday I was struck by a convicting thought, but before I get to the idea itself, let me ask you a question. When you pray and give thanks to God, do you find yourself grouping things into categories like family, church family, health, food, etc.? Though the old hymn clearly says, "Count your blessings; name them one by one," how often do we really do that? I confess I'm guilty of hurrying through my praise by making blanket statements like "Thank you, Lord, for my many blessings" or "Thank you for all the ways You've provided today." And while it's good that we're giving thanks, is this all-encompassing approach sufficient? To answer that question, let me share my thought with you.
Suppose someone offered you $100 for every blessing you could name. Would your praise list grow? Would you take a little more time, thought and effort to truly count your blessings and name them one by one? Instead of "bless my family," would your prayer include each family member by name? Oh, my, my! If you're anything like me, you just realized that our praise is lacking and our motivation is questionable. Why would we spend more time in praise for monetary reward than we would simply praising God because He deserves it? (See, I told you it was convicting!)
I want to say one last thing, and then I'm going to leave you alone and give you some time to meditate on this idea. Praise to God is always rewarded, though it may not be in the form of money. The Bible is clear that God delights in our praise, and not only that, He inhabits it. What better reward could there be than the sweet, one-on-one fellowship with the God of all creation? Money can't buy that!
Here's an example of real praise:
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul. - Psalm 103