Last week’s blog, Where do we start? mentioned our cutting edge role in Christ’s mission. We looked at a simple, powerful way to impact nations by targeting them with his PRAISE. But how do we settle on a praise focus for a nation or community?
Few people will grab the first can of tuna they see on a supermarket shelf; most will check all the options, compare brands, prices and ingredients before settling on one that ‘fits’. Praying for nations is nothing like supermarket shopping, yet we can so can easily approach praise with a ‘grab-the-first-one-I see’ rush.
Our eternal enjoyment of the Lord is something too big and magnificent to imagine, but we do know that PRAISE will be a main feature. Amazingly, Holy Spirit, the Energizer of that unending praise, has come to grow us in it now. Any praise point about the Lord is always good, but good can give way to better if – instead of going for the first one we see, or one we’re most familiar with – we pause to reach deeper. There might be a praise focus that is more relevant to the nation or to the current developments in the target community…and one that moves us forward in the journey of growing in praise. How do we settle on a praise focus that ‘fits’ the nation?
Praise is an overflow of our ADMIRATION of the Lord. There are various ways to settle on an admiration-truth, which will then feed our praise over a nation. In Psalm 108, used in last week’s post, David’s threatening circumstances drew his attention to God’s love and faithfulness. The Spirit can use our circumstances in a similar way to point us to a beauty in Christ. Or the praise focus might come from a Bible passage (as in last week’s exercise), through an inner prompt by the Spirit, or while listening to a worship song.
Another, less-used way to land on a truth for praise over a nation is to let a fact about the nation point to a truth about Christ. The Darkness in any nation or community becomes a backdrop that shows up Christ’s magnificence; the truth of who he is and what he is like. Of course, it does mean learning about the target nation. It could be its history, a belief, custom, religious ceremony, social issue or a current news report about the nation that triggers an awareness of a beauty-aspect of the Lord, a truth about him to be admired.
Last month, Thailand celebrated the most important day in the Buddhist calendar: Visakha Bucha. It commemorates three events: the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. Much of the nation spent the day in merit-making activities that included offering food to monks in local temples, listening to Dhamma (Buddha’s teaching), releasing captive birds and fish and, at night, joining a candlelight procession.
Here in Chiangmai, candle-carrying pilgrims could be seen making the 9 km-walk up Doi Suthep Mountain, to the influential Wat Phra That temple overlooking the city. In temples all over Thailand devotees performed wien tien, walking clockwise around the temple sanctuary, holding candles, incense sticks and lotus flowers. They circled three times to commemorate the “Three Jewels”: Buddha, the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha (community of monks).
Is there something in this clip of Thai life that can help shape a PRAISE focus over the nation?
- What truth about Christ does the above observance draw your attention to?
- Find an anchor scripture that helps you ponder that truth about him, talk to him about it, and voice your admiration of that beauty you see in him.
- Let your admiration of Jesus overflow in PRAISE over this nation. Exalt that quality in him, and then declare him worthy of receiving that praise throughout the nation!