Call To Praise

Author: Maria Heath

Call To Praise

NSC Chair Dr. Maria Heath calls on CCR to pray for an end to the pandemic by focusing on, and using, the gift of praise.

Back in April, I wrote an article about the importance of praise during these times. Since then many have been encouraged in their praise by joining the weekly online praise gatherings that the CCR have organised from 7-8 pm every Wednesday, or by joining with others in creative ways.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the various worship leaders that have led us so skillfully and prayerfully on Facebook. One of the fruits of this time has been to recognise the sheer number of very gifted worship leaders that we have in this country, and I know there are many more out there. The Lord is raising up a new generation of worship leaders which, in itself, speaks of the important place of praise. We have received many words confirming the need to prioritise praise.

A National Shared Moment of Prayer

In the past week, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Justin Welby have both called on everyone to join a national shared moment of prayer each day at 6 pm, and to have the vigil of Christ the King as a day of prayer to end the pandemic. 

As well as continuing with weekly praise from 7-8 pm on Wednesday, we also want to respond to this call, and to make this an act of praise each day. The structure we recommend is to proclaim a psalm, then to spend a few minutes praying in the Spirit, and to end with both a prayer to the Holy Spirit and a prayer for protection. This need only take a few minutes out of our day, but can help open us up to God’s power at this critical time.

Each week during November, we will send out a list of suggested psalms that you can use for each day of the week. These can provide a focus of our prayer. The power of the entire CCR in England, raising our voices in praise, in union with the rest of Church, will be tremendous.     

In addition to this daily prayer each week on every Friday in November there will be Mass at 6 pm hosted on our YouTube channel, which we invite you to tune into if you can. The psalm for Fridays will be the psalm we pray during Mass.

On Saturday 21 November, the Vigil of the Feast of Christ the King, we will also be hosting a special Mass on Zoom. Bishop David Oakley, Bishop of the Diocese of Northampton, has kindly agreed to celebrate this special Mass for us. We will send out more details nearer the time. 

“Praise shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart”

It’s useful to remind ourselves why the Lord calls us to praise.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Praise is the form of prayer which recognises most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the "one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist." (CCC 2639)

It strikes me from this paragraph that praise is a mark of being a child of God. It is a prayer of trust that lifts our eyes to our Father, knowing that he loves us and wants the best for us. The other day I had been doing some work. When I came home, my youngest son, who is coming up for 2 years old, squealed with delight and ran up to me with his arms raised in the air; I picked him up and cuddled him. This is an image of praise - we come before our Father with hearts and arms outstretched, abandoning ourselves to his care, simply delighting in who He is. 

Praise-A Prayer Of Utter Trust

Praise is powerful because it is a prayer of utter trust. We see in Scripture that it is the most powerful weapon we have. For example, it is the strategy that the Lord gave King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. The worshippers were sent ahead of the army and through their obedience, the Lord frustrated the plans of the enemy and won the victory. In Acts 16:25-40, Paul and Silas were in prison “singing hymns to God” when there was a violent earthquake and “all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened”. Here we see praise releasing power, breaking the power of sin and darkness, and ushering in the Kingdom of light.

Our sense as the NSC is that the Lord is hiding His people in his “Ark“ for this next month as we seek deeper intimacy with Him. We believe that, as we pray, and as we allow praise to arise through virtual gatherings, the Lord will be exposing all that needs to be exposed, increasing the alignment of our nation with His perfect will economically, relationally and spiritually. Let’s not allow fear to take hold, but pray that motives will be laid bare as the truth emerges. We need to trust that the Lord will reveal His divine solutions, which will lead us out of this national lockdown so we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we have previously enjoyed. We invite you to pray that the Lord will shake everything that can be shaken, until only those things which cannot be shaken remain (Hebrews 12:27). Let’s each make a commitment to spend more time with the Lord over this month, and be united in prayer every evening at 6 pm to praise His Holy name. The power of praise lifts our spirits. It is one of our greatest weapons and corporate praise is even more effective (Psalm 149). We need to do what we can do, and see God do what only He can do.

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