Why and How to Praise God
“He is aliiiiive! He is aliiiiive!” It was Easter Sunday morning. My five-year-old nephew was to be baptized that day. “Nana” had flown into town to share in the occasion. As the family was getting ready for church, she heard little “Mookie’s” unmistakable voice coming from the bathroom down the hall. She quietly slipped into the hallway to see what was happening. There stood the child, on a step stool in front of the mirror, carefully combing his hair, then straightening his shirt and pants, while singing at the top of his lungs, totally oblivious to anyone who might be listening in as he joyously serenaded the Lord.
Children sometimes have a way of grasping things that grown-ups miss.
Take the time that children shouted out praises to Jesus in the temple during the week before Passover. The children shouted out their praises without inhibition, while the leaders feared that things might get out of control—their control, that is.
The children were preoccupied with Jesus—they weren’t the least bit conscious of how others saw them or what anyone else was thinking. The leaders, on the other hand, were concerned about how they looked, about holding on to their position, about what everyone else would think about this whole scene.
This time the children had it right. The grown-ups had it wrong.
Why Should I Praise?
- We should praise the Lord because God loves praise and He seeks worshipers (John 4:23).
- We should praise the Lord because praise is the primary, eternal occupation of heaven (Rev. 4–5).
- We should praise the Lord because He commands us to praise Him. Did you know that the most frequently repeated command in all of God’s Word is the command to “praise the Lord”? (I suspect it may also be the most frequently neglected command.)
- We should praise the Lord because He deserves our worship and praise (Rev. 4:11).
- We should praise the Lord because we were made to bring Him pleasure, and praise pleases Him. Do you ever wonder what your purpose is here on this earth? When you praise God, you are fulfilling the highest purpose for which He created you.
- We should praise the Lord because praise takes us into His presence and brings down His glory (Ps. 22:3).
A Lifestyle of Praise
Scripture teaches that praise, worship, and thanksgiving are to be the eternal occupation of every believer. Praise is not just an activity we do at scheduled times; it is to be a continuous lifestyle.
- Praise is an expression of faith and an act of the will. It is not based on how we feel. David understood this concept as few others in the Scripture when he wrote during one of the darkest periods of his life,
“I will bless the Lord at all time: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Ps. 34: 1).
- Praise is a ministry to God. Praise is first and foremost for God, not for us (Ex. 30).
- Praise is both public and private, much as a husband and wife may display their affection for each other, both when they are in the company of others as well as when they are alone (Ps. 107:32, Daniel 6:10).
- Praise requires personal participation—it is not a spectator sport (Ps. 103:1).
Many years ago I had an experience I don’t think I will ever forget. I was on the road, spending the night in the home of a friend. A pastor and his wife visiting from Nigeria were also guests in the same home that night. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a sound unlike anything I had heard before. In the bedroom next to mine, that dear couple was singing “How Great Thou Art”—slowly, loudly, with a heavy accent, and with all their hearts. I wasn’t sure I hadn’t died and gone to heaven!
That man and woman were not spectators. They were right there on the stage—active participants in the great eternal drama of praise, performing for a sacred audience of One.
How Should I Praise?
There are many different expressions of praise and worship taught and illustrated in the Scripture. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you in your worship. Here are some of the ways He may lead you to respond:
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,to His feet thy tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore His praises sing;
Alleluia! Alleluia! Praise the everlasting King.
-Henry F. Lyte (1793–1847)
- Physical posture. A variety of different physical postures can be used in worshiping the Lord (Ps. 95:6, Neh. 9:5, Rev. 4:10, Ps. 47:1).
- Speak to the Lord. We can use our mouths to express love, praise, and thanksgiving to the Lord (Ps. 145:5).
- Sing to the Lord. This one of my favorite expressions of praise, and one that I believe merits special attention.
Do you have a favorite song or way to praise the Lord? How are you praising the Savior today?