Spiritual Discipline // CELEBRATION
By Chris Bowlby
I love the Psalms. Particularly over this last year I have found great solace and rest for my soul through the Psalms. There have been times that I have been bursting wanting to praise God. There have been moments where I had to DRAG myself to times of quiet before the Lord. Have you ever had a moment where you struggled to pray to God? The Psalms are a collection of prayers from a variety of people. They are filled with praise, with cries of anguish, with questions, doubts, and certainties. The school house of prayer starts in the Psalms. The disciples had to ask Jesus to teach them to pray. We learn to pray – and the Psalms are a wonderful teacher. I find it interesting that oftentimes the very thing I SHOULD pray is something that I don’t necessarily want to pray. But that is the beauty of the Psalms; we are invited to pray beyond our own desires. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in his exposition of the Psalms,
“If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart. Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray.”― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible
Today we have the opportunity to practice the discipline of Celebration. Why in the world would one classify celebration as a discipline? Oftentimes, celebration is birthed out of circumstance. Are things going well? We can celebrate! But true celebration is deeper than a spontaneous reaction to present circumstance. You and I do not live with such a small view of reality. The Jesus Follower is aware that ANY MOMENT is an opportunity for a fresh infusion of renewal through an infinitely creative God. In fact, we expect it! We can truly be “care-free” as God is at work beyond our own capacity for understanding. Richard Foster writes,
“When we trust God we are free to rely entirely upon him to provide what we need: “By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Prayer is the means by which we move the arm of God; hence we can live in a spirit of carefree celebration.”— Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline
We are going to read Psalm 100 with fresh eyes to live in celebration. After each section I will have several prompts that will ask you to reflect on the Lord’s Goodness.
- Find a quiet place and something to write with; I’ve found writing my prayers prompted by the Psalms to be especially helpful.
- Take it a verse or two at a time. I have written some prompts, but if the Holy Spirit prompts something else for you to pray, do so!
- Consider memorizing this short Psalm. It’s a wonderful expression of celebration to make a part of your grace before a meal or before bed. Allow the Scripture to dwell with you through memorization.
Psalm 100 (NLT)
1 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Worship the LORD with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
As you begin thinking about the Lord, how do you want to praise Him? What comes to your mind as you think about being in God’s presence?
3 Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
We are God’s chosen people. What does it mean to you that God chose you? What does it mean to you that God desires to be your shepherd? Write these as thankful prayers to God.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
How has God been faithful to you? How have you experienced God caring for you?
5 For the LORD is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your parents? How have you seen God’s faithfulness to someone a part of an older generation? How has God been faithful to your Children? Grandchildren? Someone a part of a younger generation?