Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103: 1-5
The prayer of praise is a prayer that focuses not only on God’s good gifts to us, but on what those good gifts tell us about God. Praise, then, is the expression of gratitude which focuses on the Giver. It is the joyful celebration of the One who loves us and cares for us.
The act of praise lifts our spirits in loving gratitude to God. Like any experience of gratitude, praise helps us see and take in the good gifts that are being given. But praise takes us one step further, as it opens the eyes of our hearts to see, and acknowledge, the One who is the Source of all good gifts.
The psalmist calls to his soul, to his inmost being, to engage in the act of praise. “Praise the Lord, O my soul,” he sings, “Praise his holy name.” It is a call to reflect on who God is. It is a call to open one’s inmost being in joyful, reverent acknowledgment of God. We do this not because God needs the praise, but because we need to remember who God is.
“Forget not all his benefits,” the psalmist continues. The act of remembering who God is, is evidently something we need to consciously, regularly remind ourselves to do. It is too easy to fall into discouragement and despair. It is too easy to become short sighted and forget the big picture. It is too easy to think everything depends on us. It is too easy to doubt that we are truly, intimately loved and cared for by our Maker. It is too easy to forget that God’s love is unfailing, powerful, tender, ours. It does our souls good to remember God’s kindness and goodness in our lives.
The psalmist then continues by affirming the amazing grace that flows from the heart of God. Who is God? God is the One who forgives all our sins. God is all merciful. God is all compassion. God is a pardoning God. We celebrate God, the Merciful One, and we offer our praise.
Who is God? God is a healing God. It is God who heals all our diseases. All the diseases of our minds. All the diseases of our hearts. All the diseases of our souls. All the diseases of our bodies. We open ourselves in wonder to God our Healer, and we offer our praise.
Who is God? God is the One who restores us. God redeems our lives from the pit and puts a crown of love and compassion on our heads. We allow ourselves to receive this crown from God, our Redeemer, who frees us and loves us, and we offer our praise.
Who is God? God is the One who satisfies our heart’s deepest desires with good things. We long to be loved. We long to love. We long to be known and to know. We long for true intimacy with God and with others. God is the One who satisfies these desires, restoring our youth, restoring our hope and our joy. We open our longing hearts to the One who satisfies us, and we offer our praise.
Oh Most merciful God,
you forgive all my self-serving and pride,
all my hurtful, unloving ways,
I praise you for your forgiving heart.
you see the diseases of my mind
and heart and body
and you respond with compassion and healing.
I praise you for your healing love.
you restore me to who you made me to be,
pulling me out of the pit,
placing a crown of love and compassion on my head,
proclaiming that you love me,
that you always have, and always will.
I praise you for your transforming grace.
you satisfy my heart’s deepest desire
for intimacy with you and with others.
I praise you for your abundant blessings.
I praise you.
Focus on what this text from Psalm 103 tell us about who God is. Ask God to remove whatever barriers of fear or disbelief there might be in your heart or mind to knowing God in this way. As you are ready, offer your praise to God for who God is.