Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ordained Praise

“From the lips of infants and children you have ordained praise.”—Psalms 8:2

by Gwen Stewart

Is there a sweeter sound than a child’s voice?

A baby is born silent. Limbs flailing, skin exposed, he draws his first breath, then cries—confirmation that he is robust, healthy, and ready to greet his family. There is praise in the first cry.

In the weeks to come, the cries grow heartier. Their vigor wakes us at night. Though we moan the lack of sleep, parents respond viscerally to the cry. We know how to quell it: feed, rock, diaper, or soothe the baby. The cries become contented mewls, and the house sleeps again. There is praise in a baby’s midnight crying.

Months later, we talk to the child constantly, as if she can answer. “Would you like some juice?” We hand the toddler a sippy cup and turn to the sink, smiling. One day when we ask, the baby responds with a lispy, “yah”. Our eyes round, our jaws drop. Then, perhaps we hear, “Mama”. Oh, those first sweet words. What praise we offer for those first few words!

In the ensuing years, a child's observations help us see the world anew. Our son finds a caterpillar on the sidewalk. At the dinner table, he declares that the creature looks exactly like Uncle Jim's mustache. We repeat the anecdote for years after. We tell it during long car trips, family dinners and birthday parties. What praise we feel for family legend, the glue that holds us together in good times and in bad.

As they grow, children learn that words matter. They mend a rift or hurt a friend. They cause healing or punishment. They bring division or closeness; foster sharing or cause arguments. By the time children start school, they know the power of words. Praise God that they know the power of words, so they can begin to know the power of HIS Word!

I’m the luckiest grownup, because I guide children in the most powerful form of words: song. I often tell my students that no one, not the most accomplished singer in the world, can communicate what children say in song. Bell-like and pure, sweet and strong, children’s voices carry a purity that cuts straight to the heart. I believe God delights in song-praise of children. How often I’ve felt His near Presence when they sing, as if He bends low to catch the heartwarming, honest praise from their lips!

Today, I thank God for our children. I thank God that, from their lips, He has ordained praise. I thank God that I’m able to savor its sweet, sweet sound.


  1. And I thank God for teachers like you who see the beauty and value in children.

    Gwen, this was so lovely. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. What a beautiful devo, Gwen!

    We just returned from service, where Danny Oertle led in song/testimony. One song in particular was gifted AFTER a missions trip to Ecuador and ministry to...children.

    Blessings, dear one.

  3. Suzie, God blessed me exceedingly abundantly above all I asked or imagined when He tapped me for teaching. I adore my students and the profession so very, very much! Thank you for your kind words, and God bless.

    Patti, yes, children are such an inspiration! They have a way of sharing the Gospel that is unique and heartwarming.

    May God bless you richly today!

  4. Gwen, what a lovely post. We had a baby singing his praise full blast to the Lord this morning at Mass.
    We all had a grand chuckle. I loved the image of the Lord bending low to catch their voices, but he wouldn't have had to bend too much this morning.

    Have a blessed day.

  5. This makes me think of Psalm 139:14 I will praise Him because I am wonderfully made!!! It is awesome how children seem to be so in tune to Spiritual things. The little boy I nanny on a regular basis has come to church with me before. My heart was overjoyed to see him worshipping without a care in the world. Great post and definitely one to think on throughout the day.

  6. Children fascinate us because they have purity in their thoughts, actions and words. Purity as in unplanned, unhidden, unaltered until feedback from the world tells them they are wrong, stupid, unlovable. Then they become us. No wonder God wants us to be little children again and love unabashedly, praise with no restriction.
    I do wish we had more teachers like you, Gwen, who find such joy in their work.
    Your words sing.

  7. What a lovely post. Thank you so much, Gwen! Boy, God is working on me and your insight has nudged me. Thanks!

  8. What a lovely post. Thank you so much, Gwen! Boy, God is working on me and your insight has nudged me. Thanks!

  9. Today was our annual "Western Sunday" at church and the kids led us all in a praise square dance. It was a lot of fun for the grown-ups to play and praise alongside the children.

  10. Hi Gwen,
    Like Suzie I am grateful for good teachers like you. My hubby and daughter Meghan are fantastic teachers too.

    Like Connie(hi Connie)we had a baby singing HIS praises tonight at church, but it was after the service. :)

    Have an awesome week everyone!


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