“I could sing of your love forever, I could sing of your love forever…” I was singing one of those go-to praise and worship songs in the chapel with some friends at a nearby parish, trying to give God the most sincere praise I could. But every time I sang that line, “I could sing of your love forever,” my heart felt like it was barely singing of my love for God in that moment, much less forever. After we were done, I breathed a sigh and began to put my guitar away. I felt like a sandy desert as I pushed through the chapel doors, “That was rough,” I thought to myself. “Did I even mean any of that?”
It’s frustrating! There are many times I want to praise God! I want to give him my highest praise, all my heart, all I am! But I feel like I am so feeble, that I can’t give him everything in those moments. Augustine, in his confessions says, “Despite everything, man, though but a small part of your creation, wants to praise you.” I get that primordial impulse that Augustine is talking about: I want to praise God. That’s not just a pious remark, it’s in everyone. “One may well call man a religious being” (CCC 28). As humans, we are all going to worship something. Why not the One who made us? Why not the best? Why not God?
Alright, by even attempting to talk to God in prayer with a sincere heart, we’re already at a disadvantage, because as it says in the Catechism, “Our knowledge of God is limited, our language about him is equally so” (CCC 40), and in Sirach, “Even God’s holy ones must fail in recounting the wonders of the LORD” (Sirach 42:17). The truth is, even when we try to speak about God “Our human words always fall short of the mystery” (CCC 42).
Yet it is when I am giving all I can, as much of my heart as I am able, leaving everything before him that I am giving God the best. I believe what Augustine says is essential: when we go to praise God do we “want” to praise Him? That ultimately is the question.
Augustine goes on in his confessions, “Despite everything, man, though but a small part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Despite my small part within creation, despite my weakness, and my weariness, despite my wandering mind, my fearfulness, my stubbornness and my sinfulness, despite my doubt, and my pride, despite everything, I want to praise God. That’s what I want. That is my natural human desire.
I know that sounds super gung-ho and maybe a bit overenthusiastic. But, I think it’s good to look at all the things that could keep us from approaching God in prayer and lay them before Him. It’s humbling; yet, it’s also how we can let God begin to tear down the false walls in our hearts that keep him from us. I may be selfish, I may be anxious, I may be depressed, I may be predictable, I may be unsure, but despite all those things, I am going to praise him. Deep down, my heart wants to praise Him.
Phillip Ward hails from Duncanville, Texas where he has grown up and where his Mom, Dad and four younger sisters live. He graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison Kansas in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in psychology and has spent the following years serving as a missionary. Phil loves laughing with others, using his musical gifts of singing and playing guitar to praise God, and write worship songs based off of the Catechism. Phil’s favorite sport is basketball, and he loves to eat whatever is left behind in the fridge.