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Gratitude and the joy of praising God

From the November 2023 issue of The Christian Science Journal

I’ve always linked gratitude to the idea of praising God. In the Bible, the book of Psalms overflows with powerful expressions of glorifying God, divine Love. One psalm states: “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High” (Psalms 9:1, 2). 

Praising God is a vital component in the practice of Christian Science. A few years ago I attended a Wednesday testimony meeting at a Christian Science branch church, but that night I was feeling quite unwell. I was grateful for the meeting, which was acknowledging and affirming the power of God to heal sickness and sin. I was grateful, too, that I was with church members and others who had witnessed the healing power of divine Love. Throughout the meeting I felt safe, secure, and surrounded by Love. At the end of the meeting I walked out completely well. 

An account in the Scriptures, that of King Jehoshaphat’s victory over the Moabites and Ammonites, illustrates the practical impact of praising God (see II Chronicles 20). The enemies of Judah formed an overwhelming coalition to make war against Jehoshaphat and his people. In this time of great need, the king called on the nation to pray. Then one citizen, Jahaziel, became filled with the spirit of God and spoke in God’s name, instructing the people of Judah not to be afraid and stating: “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you.” Then Jehoshaphat “appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.” 

Even in difficult circumstances we can praise God. 

The enemies of Judah were soon consumed by infighting and effectively defeated themselves. Jehoshaphat’s army did not need to fight. Their victory was accomplished through acknowledging and trusting in God’s power to protect and govern His people—and praising God led the way. 

Jehoshaphat’s victory provides valuable lessons for us today. When we are confronted with evil in whatever form, we can pray, affirming the presence and omnipotence of God, divine Love. This Love gently banishes fear and anxiety. 

Even in difficult circumstances we can praise God. Praising Him awakens us to the God-governed spiritual universe in which we truly abide. It reveals more of spiritual reality—the kingdom of heaven—which includes no discord or fear. And praising God liberates us from painful and harmful memories. As we affirm divine Love’s uninterrupted government—and express gratitude for this government in our own life—we find harmony restored, wholeness revealed, peace regained. 

Testimony meetings are one of the most unique and valuable aspects of The Church of Christ, Scientist. They are a weekly outpouring of gratitude to God. Testimonies share how healing has occurred and has deepened an understanding of God and our relation to Him. They glorify and honor God, striving to scale “the pinnacle of praise” and illustrate “the demonstration of Christ” (Mary Baker Eddy, Manual of The Mother Church, p. 47). From Tokyo to Berlin, and from Cape Town to Los Angeles, students of Christian Science praise God in branch churches around the world on Wednesdays.  

When I worked in Germany, I frequently attended these testimony meetings. My knowledge of German at that time was limited. However, I contributed to the meetings by singing hymns, listening to the readings from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, and quietly rejoicing whilst the testimonies were being given. 

One Wednesday evening, a young man shared how an understanding of God as all-governing divine Mind had helped him resolve a challenging situation at his workplace. His praise of God—honoring God for the way in which a difficult experience had been resolved—shone through his words. After the meeting, we talked for about ten minutes. He spoke excellent English, and was able to share with me details of the testimony. I will always appreciate the sincerity of that testimony and the power of the gratitude expressed during the meeting. 

I regularly look for ways to express gratitude and honor God more consistently. So many activities provide opportunities for praising God: driving on the highway, playing sports, spending time with family, participating in church activities. 

A few years ago, one such opportunity occurred. I was cycling down a hill near my home. The road was icy in patches, and I skidded, falling off the bicycle and injuring my shoulder. I was able to walk home, where I contacted a Christian Science practitioner to request treatment through prayer. 

That evening, I was scheduled to participate in a presentation at my branch church. As I traveled to give the presentation, I prayed to see this as an opportunity—an opportunity to celebrate God and to express gratitude for my branch church and its activities. I focused entirely on praising God as divine Truth and Life, providing me with the right ideas to share and the right way to express them. After the meeting, several members expressed appreciation for the presentation. Soon, continuing to work with a Christian Science practitioner, I was able to resume all activities—including cycling—in complete freedom.  

I was soon able to resume all activities—including cycling—in complete freedom.

For me, praising God is a daily spiritual exercise—a way to confirm and celebrate the fact that God is our Father and Mother, our protector and our greatest companion. The entire career of Jesus was devoted to glorifying God, in thought, word, and deed. We could say he was employed to praise God, and reveal God’s kingdom to all. 

The experiences recorded in the Gospels indicate that Jesus was not perturbed or intimidated by the appearance of sickness. His healing practice was based on his steadfast understanding that God, divine Spirit, is supreme and almighty. On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus sang a hymn with his disciples after the last supper (see Mark 14:26). Surely, such praise affirmed the power of Spirit, which was clearly apparent in his triumphant resurrection.

Our study and practice of Christian Science reveals man’s true identity to be entirely spiritual. Man, as the image of God, is whole and sound. Divine Love maintains and governs His likeness. As we understand and demonstrate these spiritual facts, our gratitude to God will broaden and deepen. We will rejoice in God daily with conviction and confidence—and this praise will resound in our homes, our churches, and our communities.

More in this issue / November 2023


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