Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His host!
Psalm 148:1-2
Many people struggle with prayer. They wonder when should they should pray, how often they should pray, and where they should pray. The answer to these three dilemmas is very easy—we should pray whenever we can, we should pray as often as we can, and we can pray wherever we are. While there are certain times that should be marked with prayer, such as in the morning, in the evening and before meals, any time is a good time to pray. While we should spend at least a few minutes with God in prayer each day, there is nothing wrong with praying more. And while we should pray at least once a week in church, and it is helpful to set up a prayer space at home, we can pray anywhere, and we should pray everywhere.
Psalm 148 is directed at the whole creation. With God as the Creator of all, all should praise God in gratitude. This includes angels, sun, moon, stars, heavens, seas, sea monsters, fire and hail, snow and frost, winds, mountains trees, animals, birds, kings, young and old, all people of the earth.
Likewise, as we human beings travel over the earth (mountains do not travel), we should be praising God wherever we are (whether we are in the mountains, on the seas, at home, at work or on vacation) and we should be praising God no matter who we are (whether we are rich or poor, young or old, happy or sad). If the heavens are called to praise God, then certainly everything beneath the heavens should praise Him as well.
Part of what ails society is that we are fractured. There is little unity. There is a difference between diversity and division. Just as there is a difference between equality and unity. Diversity is good. God has blessed human beings with diverse gifts. We need all the gifts to make the world work right. Saint Paul writes in I Corinthians 12:4, “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” And in I Corinthians 12:11, “All these (diverse gifts) are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.” Diversity is good, because it is only in diversity that we can cover all the jobs that need to be done. Division is not good, because as we read in Mark 3:26, Jesus says “if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
There is a difference in equality and unity. In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as equality. No two people are equal on any metric, save for equally sharing the air they are breathing. A pursuit of equality, again in my humble opinion, will lead to insanity. Try to equalize anything between two people—the amount of words each says in a conversation, the amount of bites taken during a meal, the amount of text messages each initiaties, etc.—and you will quickly find there is more insanity than harmony in pursuing equality. Unity is different. People can be unequal but united in purpose. And this is what God calls us to be through this Psalm. We are diverse, because each has different talents. And we are called to use those talents to be united in purpose—to praise God and to serve one another. Actually these two things go hand in hand. We cannot praise God while hurting another.
Serving one another without giving praise to God ultimately becomes a self-serving and narcissistic exercise. Our purpose is to praise and glorify God and this is manifested in our service to others. We are to praise God at all times and in all places. And this is the purpose that unites all of us, even in our diversity of ages, stages and talents.
There is one liturgical note that accompanies this Psalm. Verses 1-2 are sung at the Orthros (Matins) service in the mornings, beginning a section of hymns called “the Praises.” The remaining verses of this Psalm and the two that follow are intoned, and at certain Matins services, are read.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars! Praise Him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For He commanded and they were created. And He established them forever and ever; He fixed their bounds which cannot be passed. Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling His command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for His people, praise for all His saints, for the people of Israel who are near to Him. Praise the Lord!
Psalm 148
Praise God often and everywhere. Celebrate diversity while avoiding division. Abandon equality and pursue unity.