This morning I glanced through an old issue (May/June of ’07) of a Discipleship Journal (a fantastic NavPress magazine that ceased publication about six years ago) and read an article titled “The 20 Minute Worship Challenge” by Becky Harling. In it she describes how beginning each day with a concentrated time of praise transformed a difficult season in her life. Harling praised in different ways: singing along with music, “praising” through the alphabet, and reading praise Psalms aloud. Following her article was an inset titled “Praises from A to Z,” an excerpt from the book Pray with Purpose, Live with Passion by Debbie Williams (which, by the way, looks really good! Click on the title above to visit its Amazon page.)
I didn’t read the inset piece because I was about to head out for a run, and I wanted to pray my own praise alphabet during the first part of it. I can’t now remember all the words I came up with, but a few stuck with me long enough to write them down. I’m leaving the ones I can’t recall blank in case you want to fill them in for yourself.
My Running ABCs of Praise
A: Awe. I was just starting the run, and the heavy humidity hadn’t yet drenched me. The light was hazy through the treetops, and I was in awe that God had created the waving branches and that specific quality of light that would so bedazzle my eyes.
C: Care. “He careth for you(me).” That phrase from my King James Version-steeped childhood chimed in my head. He—GOD of the universe—CARES for itty-bitty me.
E: Excellent. He is excellent—in all facets. Full marks in everything. Enough said. Come to think of it, “enough” is good, too. He is—enough.
F: Fair. “Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature/O Thou of God and man the Son/Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor/Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.” Old hymn—but still and always true.
G: Good. Wholly GOOD, no bad in Him at all. AT ALL. Good—to the core, to the very last drop, in all His beings/doings/imaginings. (Don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine being that good. Snotty thoughts of one kind or another pass through my mind on a very regular basis–sometimes most frequently when I’m trying to be most good!)
H: Healer. Oh, how I have experienced God’s work in my life as my healer, the great Physician who sees my brokenness and knows how to cure it.
I: Inimitable. Great word meaning “not able to be imitated.” Very true. Lucifer tried. Humanity tried. Both failed—with disastrous results. Only the inimitable God is completely uncorrupted by power.
K: Kind. I tell my kids all the time I don’t want them to be merely “nice.” I want them to be KIND. Nice is a polite smile, an averted gaze, a penny in the bucket. Kind is a helping hand, a listening ear, a shared laugh–or cry, and a walking alongside. Kind can even be tough when it needs to be. Nice is focused on me; kind is focused on what is good for the other person.
L: Love. Basic but mind blowing. God is LOVE. Wow.
M: Mysterious. Not a tame lion, our Jesus, our God, but One Who must be true only to Himself. He doesn’t answer to me, the President, anybody. Just Himself, and He’s so big He’s unfathomable to us tiny-brained humans. That makes Him pretty mysterious.
M: Mine (I couldn’t resist a second one for “m” because, oh, my word, the mysterious God of the universe allows me to call Him “mine.”)
O: (Later I thought of “Omega,” but that felt like cheating. So I’m putting it here but also confessing.)
Q: Quintessence. Besides simply being a cool word, it’s a fantastic descriptor for God, and specifically for Christ. “The most perfect embodiment of something.” Christ is the ultimate quintessence of God.
R: Real. Not imaginary, not able to be disproved. He’s the realest of the real. He will exist though all else be stripped away. The scene in The Silver Chair when Puddleglum argues with the Witch about reality is a fantastic treatise on this idea.
S: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Wow—that word is in spellcheck! Thank you, Mary Poppins and P. L. Travers. If ever anyone deserves this most scrumptious and sing-able of multi-syllabic words, it’s God.
T: Tried and true. “True” as in “real”—see letter “r.” “Tried” as in “never failing” and willing to prove this to us time and again and again so we can know this through personal experience.
U: Ubiquitous. Honest, it really was the first word that came to mind (okay, maybe “unique” popped up first, but it was immediately rejected as being too blah). But then—more honesty—I thought, “You know, I’m not quite sure what ‘ubiquitous’ means.” Well, I looked it up later, and it means “existing or being everywhere; especially at the same time; omnipresent.” PERFECT!
V: Verity. Another word from the KJV. “The state or quality of being true; accordance with fact or reality.” Psalm 111:7 “The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.”
W: Whirlwind. I know it’s a weird choice, but one of the things I most appreciate about God (after the fact, at least) is that He is willing to come into my life and heart at times with a gust-like force that disturbs me, that makes me take inventory, that makes me change.
X: Xylophone didn’t fit. If you come up with any, let me know.
Z: Zenith. “highest point or state; culmination.” A good descriptor for God and a proper ending for this list.
Note: I have also used the alphabet for intercessory prayer for others. I just pray for a person/situation/organization/place I know that begins with the letter A (or several) and then move on to the rest of the letters.