Prayers of praise recognize the power of the Creator God. In these prayers we confess his control. We admire the beauty of his work. We describe the beauty in our world; we marvel at the intricacy of design in our university.
The writer of Psalm 29 describes powerful forces in the natural world with colorful imagery. The voice of God calls these forces into existence:
“The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD cause the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, ‘Glory’”(Psalm 29:5-9 NRSV).
The writer states that God controls our world: “The voice of the LORD is over the waters, the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty” (Psalm 29:3-4). God’s majesty provokes praise and worship; the Psalmist already has urged that those who speak this Psalm “worship the LORD in holy splendor” (verse 2).
God is ruler of nature, the king of all we survey. Our adoration, our confession of his power, calls forth prayers for strength and peace. Some people, in contrast, view our world with jaded eyes. They see only flaws – disease, famine, destruction caused by tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. They decry humanity’s inhumanity, condemn rightly the cruelty which people often inflict on one another. They ignore the beauty of waterfalls, the majesty of the mountains, the lush grandeur of forests and fields of grain. Perhaps they live where human produced squalor and crime obscure this beauty. They have not seen it, so they deny that it exists. Recently, I drove through seemingly endless fields of corn, wheat, and soybeans in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. The expanse of vividly green fields punctuated by stands of majestic trees reminded me of the reality described in this psalm. We live in an amazing world. To be sure, there are ruptures in the masterpiece. I have seen decaying buildings in urban centers and polluted rivers. I have witnessed abject poverty in both Afghanistan and parts of Appalachia. I have seen the destruction that years of war exact on landscapes and people’s minds. Still, even in these most desolate places, children smile and, even where volcanoes have incinerated acres of trees, new growth emerges, restoring the desecrated beauty.
God, our Creator and Father, your power both amazes and frightens us. The majesty and beauty of your world inspires us. When we contemplate the complexity of this sphere, we marvel at how it could have come to pass. Rebellion against you, a struggle for our own primacy, blinds us to your glory. Strip away the veil. Help all to see fully the beauty of your love. Grant us the security of peace. Thank you, God, for all you have given. In Jesus’ name, Amen.