“It is good to sing praise to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.”
Remember gratitude journals? You were supposed to list five thankfuls each night. Penning the day’s gifts focused us on the blessings in our lives–rather than what had gone wrong. I think I kept one for a week or so.
The act of thanksgiving can be life-changing, or at least perspective-changing. This is especially true for those who like to check off our to-dos and keep moving forward. Life and ministry are full of rabbit trails and derailments. Most days don’t actually go as planned, at least in my life.
The psalmist declares, “It is good . . . to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night ”(v. 2). Personally, I do much better with the morning part. In the morning, the day is, as Anne of Green Gables would say, new “with no mistakes in it . . . Yet.” By the end of the day, those morning aspirations are bedraggled with a big dose of reality.
That’s where developing a habit of declaring God’s “faithfulness by night” comes in. Whether in prayer and reflection or a journal or a quiet conversation, I need to remember the gifts of each day before I lay my head on the pillow. I need to sing for joy, gladdened by God’s work in our lives and in the world (v. 4), even if it’s the world’s shortest song.
Ending the day with thanksgiving refocuses me on what is most important: loving God and loving my neighbor as myself. It also keeps “enemies” and “assailants,” or the “powers that be” as Paul calls them (Rom. 13:1, KJV), from taking root in me for the night. Gratitude to God reminds me that I am not in charge, never have been, never will be and don’t have to be. (Can I get an AMEN?!)
Let me be clear that this is not a fully developed habit for me! Many nights I fall into bed an anxious mess, with the mistakes and pitfalls of the day swirling in my head and troubling my heart. Celebrating God’s “faithfulness by night” has to be a conscious choice for me each evening.
So Psalm 92 will be my bedtime partner tonight. Thanks be to God for this scripture prayer, voiced long ago by our ancient ancestors in the faith. May they sing in our hearts tonight.