<<giving thanks, honour>>
The world would be a better place if we praised as quickly as we criticized
generously, and often (Lk 6:31; Gal 6:7). Since the positive effect of thankfulness achieves more than destructive negative grumbling, criticism and complaints, recall and speak of the blessings you have received, not the problems. We naturally speak about what has accumulated in our minds and hearts so store up ‘good treasure’ that will enrich the lives of others when they hear it (Lk 6:45). Although not seeking praise for ourselves, accept it graciously when it comes, for how we react is an indicator of our character – does it make us proud of our own efforts or humble before God, thanking Him for what He has been able to do through us? (Prov 27:2,21; 2 Cor 10:17,18).
As “Life and death are in the power of the tongue” use words in a positive way, to bless, encourage by speaking well of others, and especially of God who has done great and mighty things for us (Ps 71:19, 126:3; Prov 18:21; Lk 1:49; Jas 3:9,10). Although it is impossible to praise Him for all He has done, it should not stop us from at least endeavouring to (2 Sam 22:4; 1 Chr 16:9; Ps 35:28).
Do you praise your children as much as you criticise them?
If we are surrendered to God we will praise Him, being mindful of how much we owe Him. It is expressing how wonderful and great we believe God is and how much we love Him. "Those that seek the Lord will praise Him", for “He is worthy of praise…It is good to praise the Lord…for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps 18:3, 22:26, 92:1, 107:8; Eph 5:20). Yet regardless how much we praise Him, we can never do enough (Ps 79:13, 106:2). The Book of Psalms indicates that praising God should be a lifestyle – a consistent expression of thankfulness in all situations, through the difficult as well as the good times, and not dependent on feelings or circumstances but acknowledging He is ordering the situations as He sees best (Job 1:21; Ps 34:1, 145:2; Rom 8:28; 1 Thes 5:16-18). Do I have this continual attitude of gratitude? “Whoever offers praise glorifies God and will be shown the salvation of God” as it acknowledges His gracious forgiveness, and the blessings He freely gives (Ps 50:23, 67:5-7, 103:1-5).
Praise is the foundation of worship, both private and public. Although thanksgiving, praise and worship have individual distinctions, they are closely connected. We thank God for what He has done for us, or will do, expressing gratitude for His actions. We praise Him as our soul recognizes His sovereignty and other attributes “I will…praise thy name for thy loving kindness and for thy truth” (Ps 138:2). Praise acknowledges that He does what no other can do – providing the gift of salvation – and draws us into meaningful worship (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 15:3,4). Worship is an acknowledgment of God and all His power and with this attitude of heart we respond in loving Him with every part of our being (Mk 12:30).
Praise as sacrifice
Make it your objective to praise the Lord at all times – Psalm 34:1
atmosphere for faith to grow. Praise focuses on Him, not the circumstances that oppose us. The call to the Hebrews was “Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise”. This is a costly response when sometimes it is the last activity we feel like doing, yet this act of submission to His divine will is pleasing to the Lord (Ps 67:3; Isa 12:1; Heb 13:15). Although “We don’t realise now what He is doing, later we will” if we are confident that the God of the whole earth will do right” even in the midst of deep trials and testing (Gen 18:25; Jn 13:7). “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” so “Let everything that has breath Praise the Lord” (1 Chr 16:25; Ps 150:6).
Praise joyfully accepts the present as part of God’s loving, perfect will for us, aside from what we think or hope will happen in the future. Offering praise is not a bargaining tool or a formula for it is not manipulating God, saying ‘I’ll praise you so you will do ...’; rather it is a statement of faith and choice – ‘God you are in control, I’ll trust you and your promises’ (Phil 1:6). Look forward to actually becoming all that God has in mind for you to be as He has fantastic plans for us (Jer 29:11; 1 Cor 2:9; 1 Jn 3:1,2). No matter where we are, the situation we are in, or how uncertain and bleak the future may look we can still “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise…” confident God is in control and able to manage what [we] have committed to Him (Ps 100:4; 1 Tim 1:12). Our faith grows when we stand on His Word and thank Him for everything. If it wasn’t for the hard times how would we grow or learn to rely on Him? (2 Cor 1:8,9).
Praise as pleasure
Praise is also ‘delighting oneself in God’, enjoying the benefits He has won for us (Ps 37:4). Any sincere prayer opens the door for His power to move in our lives, yet how much more the prayer that incorporates praise and thanks Him for the answer, claiming the outcome in faith, instead of continually asking in prayer. God’s power is at work when His people show their trust and confidence by praising Him. Jesus said He could do nothing by Himself, yet when He acknowledged God and gave thanks to Him miracles took place (Mk 6:41-43; Jn 5:19,30, 11:41).
Genuine praise builds an intimate relationship and can take the form of bowing down or prostrating the body in devotion and surrender without words (Ps 95:6).
Praise and liberation
As God is more evident where His people genuinely and liberally praise Him, what an incentive for our lips to overflow with praise so we can sense His nearness (2 Chr 5:13; Ps 22:3, 63:3, 119:171). Through praise our attitudes are transformed regardless of what happens in the outward situation. When we praise God we see evil in the correct perspective – subject to the power of God – and ourselves as agents working for good, according to God’s plan. As we ‘hope in Him’ we can surmount the despondency and despair of this wicked world. When we connect with the Lord He will give us a ‘garment of praise’ instead of heaviness of heart as the centre of our attention moves from us, our limitations and problems to His endless victory (Isa 61:3)
Does praise freely flow from my lips?
prevents us seeing the good He can bring out of even seeming disasters (Rom 5:3-5). Praise releases His power to work in the situation for our good as we align ourselves with the work of God. "As they began to sing and praise, the Lord..." (2 Chr 20:12-23). “With a song of thanksgiving, I will sacrifice to you”, opened the way for God to act, causing Jonah’s release from his fishy prison (Jnh 2:9,10). Similarly, it is recorded after being beaten Paul and Silas “began to sing and praise, the Lord acted on their behalf” with a dramatic turnaround in their situation (Act 16:22-30).
Praise and worship should be intertwined in our prayers. Prayer is conversing with God and should not just be asking but include thanking Him for the previous answers to prayer. "by prayer and petition with thanksgiving...Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (Phil 4:6; Col 4:2).
See also: attitude, focus, presence of God, singing, thankfulness/thanksgiving, worship.