Glory and praise to our God

Praise and worship – through prayer said or sung – has been an important part of Christian prayer (and Jewish prayer before that) from the beginning.

Worship is an interesting word. Its original meaning was somewhere close to ‘shape worth’. The old marriage vows said ‘with my body I thee worship’ – when I give you my body it is as my wife; I shape your worth as a person of value, the mother of my legal heirs, not just a passing concubine with no rights. When someone is deeply in love, we say: ‘she worships the ground he walks on’ – she values him so highly that she values even the ground under his feet.

The Holy Spirit over the bent earth broods

These old expressions keep the sense of the word that I intend when I talk about worship – a love deep and all absorbing; a love that raises the worth of the worshipper, and that can only be expressed in praise and rapt adoration of the beloved.

I remember commenting to a poster on my blog that God made us so that we could love Him. He replied that made God sound like a megalomaniac. This is an example of seeing God as a human being writ a bit larger – a temptation to which we believers are all too prone. Yet it is only by analogy that we can begin to understand a being so far beyond our understanding: Creator where we are the created, Love where we are the beloved, True Word where we are the spoken, Eternal Now where we are bound to time.

Even in human beings we don’t criticise parents for feeling that children will complete their family, and for wanting those children to love them. And God is not, of course, human. He, Himself, uses human analogies to explain the relationship: shepherd, gardener, king, mother hen. His favourite of all, repeated over and over, is father.

The analogy I want to leave you with comes from Isaiah 49:

Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you.

Think of a mother and child. Have you seen them in an unguarded moment during that time when the child has become aware that this large, mysterious being is the fount of all good things? That food comes from her, relief from uncomfortable dampness, attention, pleasant sounds, interesting new experiences? Imagine her looking down at the young one cradled in her arms, perhaps freshly bathed and just fed. And imagine the child looking back – not yet sleepy but at peace and absorbed in the face of the one who brings happiness. On the one side: total acceptance, fierce protectiveness, and deep abiding love. On the other: adoration, trust, and worship.

This post is part of a series on prayer and was originally posted on Worship was the last of what you might call the topics of prayer. Previous posts in the series were:

Thanks be to God
Prayers of offering
Praying for ourselves; praying for others
A people of prayer

Next post on this theme, modes of prayer


About joyfulpapist

JoyfulPapist is an adult convert to Catholicism, with a passion for her God, her faith, and her church.
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