Years ago I went through a period of great mental anguish. I would often take my dog on long walks while pondering one line of the Lord’s Prayer at a time. I needed calm and assurance, and spending this time in deep prayer helped me.
On the day that I focused on the line of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Hallowed be thy name,” I realized that I was tempted to think too abstractly about the concept of honoring God. So instead, I considered what exactly this asked of me. What came to me was the following: respecting God as my Maker and as the creator of all, recognizing God’s grandeur and love, understanding that I was enveloped in that love, and feeling gratitude for God’s power to lead me out of anguish.
We read in the Bible’s book of Acts: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (17:24, 25).
I have always loved the sentiment this conveys to me that God is eternal and complete, “Lord of heaven and earth.” We don’t worship God with our hands – God, divine Spirit, doesn’t need material offerings or religious ornamentation. And God doesn’t need mortals’ respect to be God; the nature and power of the Divine is independent from anything humans may do or not do.
Yet the Lord’s Prayer tells us to honor God, and the Psalms are full of praise for God. Christ Jesus put the love and praise of God first. So, does God somehow need this praise from us? What is the value of spiritual worship that honors God?
As I was thinking about this recently, an analogy came to mind. If we make or buy a present for someone dear to us, we lovingly consider what that person might enjoy and cherish. Carefully deciding on a present, imagining how happy this person will be and how much he or she will love the item, brings us joy, too.
Similarly, the clarity and calm that come with being conscious of God’s goodness bring the concept of honoring God full circle: In praising God, we become more aware of divine goodness, and end up filled with gratitude. We see more clearly what it is that God gives us – our very identity as His spiritual offspring, created to feel and experience all the joy and peace that God, divine Love itself, expresses in us.
Actively praising in this way makes us feel more alive, more energetic, more connected. Anything we do as praise to God, good, comes back to us expanded and enlarged.
That’s what happened to me at that difficult time. As I focused on how to hallow God’s name, to love God in a way that would do Him most justice, I stopped being so fearful about the things that burdened me. It gave me the hope I needed to keep praying. And before long, the situation causing me such anguish was resolved in a most unexpected way.
Turning wholeheartedly to God, Spirit, as the source of our “life, and breath, and all things,” is how we can best praise God. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote: “This scientific sense of being, forsaking matter for Spirit, by no means suggests man’s absorption into Deity and the loss of his identity, but confers upon man enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 265). Praising God, becoming conscious of what Deity has given us, deepens our happiness and increases our confidence that God is always with us.
We gain everything by opening ourselves to God’s goodness, and the best way to do this is by being conscious of the love we inherently reflect as God’s children, passing it on, and sharing the blessings God bestows.