I used to find the many Bible admonitions to praise God a bit tedious, and would pass over them quickly, searching for verses of comfort and encouragement. Why did God need to be praised so much, I wondered? Since I had learned in Christian Science that God is not a person whom one must appease, I couldn't quite see the point of it.
It hadn't occurred to me that praise was good for the praiser, that it encouraged humility and trust, gratitude and love. When we praise a play or a concert, doesn't this show our gratitude for having been so well entertained, and also our love for what we found worthy of praise? Then why should we withhold praise from God, the Giver of all good? We can only be strengthened and enriched by expressing gratitude and praise.
At one time my small daughter and I were living temporarily with my parents. I was deeply discouraged over personal problems; then an illness suddenly overwhelmed me. I had never been confined to my bed for more than a day, so when this illness was in its fourth day I became alarmed. I did not seem able to stay on my feet long enough to care for my child, who was not yet two. I felt guilty about burdening my parents, and was also afraid the condition might be serious.
When I mentioned this fear over the phone to the Christian Science friend who was helping me through prayer, she replied, ''Well, suppose you found out it was something considered serious? Would you be doing anything differently?'' This question startled me. I knew that sickness was, in the final analysis, illegitimate, even unreal, because a wholly good and all-powerful God could not create it - and I had often proved its unreality through healing. So I answered, ''No, I would still want to work it out in Christian Science.''
My friend then recommended that I rejoice and sing hymns, praising God for His goodness. This would help me get above the mesmeric nature of the situation and become more aware of the allness of God and the powerlessness of evil. Singing was the last thing I felt like doing, and I didn't think it would be possible to stay upright long enough to get through one hymn. But I followed her recommendation, singing the most joyful hymns I could find. The first verse of one of them reads:
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like us His praise should sing?
Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the everlasting King. n1
n1 Christian Science Hymnal, No. 280.
My thought was lifted and I did feel stronger. But after a while I sat down to rest, and then discouraging thoughts of reversal came. ''That didn't really do any good,'' the argument went. ''You are still very ill.''
My little daughter had been playing quietly in the room while I was singing. Now suddenly I heard a little voice singing, very distinctly and in perfect tune , ''Praise Him, praise Him.'' I was surprised, even awed. It was like a divine message to me to continue my praise, just as this child was so naturally and joyfully singing praises. I was obedient and resumed my singing. The genuine joy now expressed sent the trouble packing. The next day I was quite free and able to resume my duties.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life and recognizing no mortal nor material power as able to destroy. Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine 'powers that be.' '' n2
n2 Science and Health, p. 249
Many times since that long-ago experience I have found that turning from the physical evidence or from worry or sorrow, and expressing the joy that comes from trusting God, supreme Spirit, has brought healing - often very quickly. Thinking of that innocent child's spontaneous praise, I have been reminded of Christ Jesus' words ''Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.'' n3
n3 Matthew 21:16
DAILY BIBLE VERSE
I will prise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart Psalms 9:1