This goes out to the worried This goes out to the stressed Sorting out a million thoughts running through your head
To everyone that's waiting For better days ahead Tired and frustrated and leaving words unsaid
Please don't hold your breath
Just breathe 'Cause it's a miracle we can breathe There's power in the way that we breathe Release your heavy burdens And let everything that has breath praise the Lord This is why we have breath Praise the Lord
When I first listened to the words of this song (Breathe, by Maverick City Music), I was deeply moved. Something about the simplicity of just breathing, along with letting go of my burdens and praising the Lord, felt so good for my soul. To this day, when I sing or listen to these words, it almost always takes me to a better place mentally and emotionally.
I once heard a worship leader say that "praise and worship delivers benefits". It got me thinking of that phrase from Psalm 103 that encourages us to "forget not all His benefits" in kind of a new way. Here are the first few verses of that Psalm....
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Now I always thought the benefits were all those things God does - forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, and satisfies. Indeed it seems likely that experiencing these actions of God in our lives is probably what the writer was referring to. However, I have to wonder if partly these benefits come through our praising Him. Maybe our praise is what opens the door for us to become aware of these good qualities of God the psalm talks about.
The thing is, sometimes praising God - especially when we're experiencing hurt or pain of some kind - feels at best silly and at worst, almost heretical. How can I be praising God and thanking Him for His benefits when I feel like I'm not experiencing them at all?
I guess this is why the simplicity of "just breathing" can be so helpful. If praising God requires that I muster up some kind of big amount of joyfulness and celebration and an exuberant song and dance routine, it seems very unlikely that I'll be successful if I feel tired out to begin with. But if all it takes is for me to just take a breath... if somehow just breathing in and breathing out can be a way of praising God - well I can do that. I can take a breath. So can you. It's how we know we're still alive.
I wonder if we too often take instructions like "rejoice in the Lord always" or "be joyful always" and turn them into impossibly high standards for ourselves. We think that if we're not jumping for joy every second, we must be doing something wrong. But what if rejoicing is so much simpler than we make it out to be? What if it doesn't depend on how we're feeling or on our circumstances but rather on our willingness to take another breath? To start where we are and trust that God will meet us there?
"Please don't hold your breath." Don't wait to praise God until you feel like you are filled up with genuine awe and wonder. Don't wait to pray until you have all the perfect words to say. Don't wait to thank Him until you see the proverbial sun shining. Whisper a prayer of thanksgiving even in the rain and know that He absolutely hears you, sees you, and loves just hearing you breathe.
Pray with me...
... for everyone in the ACSD community who feels tired or worn out
But Lord, be merciful to us, for we have waited for you. Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble. Psalm 33:2 NLT
... that all of us might have the courage and strength to praise the Lord right where we are
Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. Psalm 33:2 NIV
... that by God's grace many would experience more of the benefits of praise and worship
We’ve been waiting for you, Eternal One, to come and shower us with grace. In the morning, be our strength; in times of trouble, be what saves us. Psalm 33:2 VOICE
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria
To God alone be the glory