One of the purest expressions of worship is the “psalm” of Mary found in Luke chapter 1:46-55. She has just heard the prophetic words of Elizabeth in the preceding verses and responds in overwhelming veneration. Note how she does this by affirming his character in the first couple of verses.
“My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.”
Mary is extolling God for who he is. In the very center of her being, in her totality she is exalting God for nothing less than his true nature, his character, his essence of being. She does subsequently proclaim the great deeds he has performed, which are an acknowledgment of his great power. Yet, they are deeds which he has chosen to perform absent the solicitation of men.
She recognizes the awesome power of God, thus his Sovereign authority over all, including herself. She affirms his holiness, the very essence of purity and distinctiveness of the person of God that only he holds. And she declares the unimaginable, unmerited mercy God has demonstrated to mankind throughout history. Amazing wisdom and maturity from a young girl!
One thing strikes me as being glaringly absent from this Psalm- it is the supplication for benefits from the hand of Yahweh. She is not seeking graces on her behalf. No needs, wants, desires or demands, merely magnifying or praising her God.
Now, I am not saying that we should not supplicate God for gifts or graces, but should they not be asked for with the intent of glorifying God? And should they not be asked for in the proper perspective? Even the Lord’s prayer places the exaltation of God, “Hallowed be your name”, before the asking of needs, “Give us this day…”.
When it comes down to it, shouldn’t this be the first and foremost order of worship- announcing, ascribing, and affirming the perfect attributes of the Sovereign God of all creation rather than our “needs”, wants, desires, demands, entreaties? Is not worship, or should not worship be something w-a-y beyond ourselves? After all, we were made to glorify God! Period!
Point Blank: What is your Magnificat? How do you pray? Do you pray to the Sovereign of all for his glory to be revealed, or your own? My guess is that, if you are like most of us your prayers quickly accelerate to shopping lists issued to a “vending machine” God who is expected to answer according to our desires, instead of ruminating on and in the essence of God.
We would do well to follow the exemplary model of this first-century adolescent girl. Would that we would ascend as a people of God to her level of maturity!
Thank God! Yes, thank God!