It was late when I finally got the girls settled into bed because they were still filled with all the excitement of mommy’s graduation. They were so adorable as they clapped enthusiastically for everything and looked around in awe. Lillyann clapped when mommy went across the stage and clapped again when she came down the steps to return to her seat. Mylah just clapped the whole time and grinned knowing she was part of something exciting:)
After I got Mylah to sleep, I turned my attention to getting Lillyann ready to go to sleep. Like me, she doesn’t shut down as easily as Mylah:) I was humbled and tickled at the same time as I listened to her pray. God knows that humor and humbling go together perfectly if I’m willing to see the lesson and laugh at myself. I bent my head and sat with my hands folded as Lillyann prayed. She lifted my head and told me to pray while she did. I smiled and began to thank God for loving us and then followed her model of thanking Him for everyone and everything I could think of:) Children’s prayers are filled with thanksgiving, and I needed to remember that.
I was deeply touched when Lillyann prayed, “Thank you for my daughters.” I heard mommy’s prayers in hers and joined in and thanked God for my granddaughters:) Praying together is important, and I was happy to be praying out loud with little Lillyann. I always suspected that she may lean toward pentecostal worship given her energy and need for movement. That’s okay because one of my favorite poems is “When Mahalia Sings.” It’s a wonderful reminder that worship is about an individual relationship with God and can take many forms.
When Mahalia Sings by Quandra Prettyman.
We used to gather in the high window of the holiness church and, tip-toe, look in and laugh at the dresses, too small on the ladies, and how wretched they all looked-an old garage for a church, for pews, old wooden chairs. It seemed a lame excuse for a church. Not solemn or grand, with no real robed choir, but a loose jazz band, or so it sounded to our mocking ears. So we responded to their hymns with jeers.
Sometimes those holiness people would dance, and this we knew sprang from deep ignorance of how to rightly worship God, who after all was pleased not by such foolish laughter but by the stiffly still hands in our church where we saw no one jump or shout or lurch or weep. We laughed to hear those holiness rhythms making a church a song fest: we heard this music as the road to sin, down which they traveled toward that end.
I, since then, have heard the gospel singing of one who says I worship with clapping hands and my whole body, God, whom we must thank for all this richness raised from dust. Seeing her high-thrown head reminded me of those holiness high-spirited, who like angels, like saints, worshiped as whole men with rhythm, with dance, with singing soul. Since then, I’ve learned of my familiar God-He finds no worship alien or odd.
If you haven’t heard Mahalia sing, then you’ve missed something wonderful. Her love for God is evident, and she doesn’t contain that love but rather lets it flow beautifully from her whole body. I love Quandra Prettyman’s poem, and I love my pentecostal friends. I’m finding that worshiping with my whole body feeds my soul in a powerful way, so I’m raising my hands more and not worrying about what anyone else might think. Loving God and worshiping Him takes on many beautiful forms, and I know He loves each and every expression of love offered up to Him. Whether it’s a moment of silence in a hectic day or a high-spirited voice raised in praise, they all say the same thing. “I love you God!” The most important element of prayer and worship is love, and it can be whispered in solitude or shouted from the rooftop.
God reminded me that all worship blesses Him, and a dear friend reminded me that worship is a gift from God. The heart of God is at the heart of worship, and that’s all that matters. He wants to bless us, and He loves it when our love lifts prayers and praises to Him. Whatever its form, worship is about stopping for a moment, thanking God, and letting Him know how very much I love Him. Lillyann started and ended her prayer with, “Thank you God,” and I believe that’s a great model to follow. Thank you God indeed!!