Keys to Powerful Living: Praise
GIVING GOD THE GLORY NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE FACING
Witnessing a magnificent fireworks display, hearing a stunning symphony, or seeing a glorious sunset can evoke a response of praise.
But often, it’s easier to praise a sunset than the Creator of the sunset. In that same way, the difficulties of life often cloud our vision and keep us from praising God. What can we do to restore a heart-attitude of praise?
THE NATURE OF PRAISE
Praise, according to the Scriptures, is an act of our will that flows out of an awe and reverence for our Creator. Praise gives glory to God and opens us up to a deeper union with Him. It turns our attention off of our problems and on the nature and character of God Himself.
As we focus our minds on God and proclaim His goodness, we reflect His glory back to Him. The results can fill you with peace and contentment ( Isaiah 26:3) and transform your outlook on life.
REASONS TO PRAISE
Very simply, we praise God because He is worthy of our praise ( 1 Chron. 16:25; Rev. 5:11-14). He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Creator, Provider, Healer, Redeemer, Judge, Defender and much more.
Another foundational reason to praise God is simple obedience. The Bible says God is a “jealous” God who demands and desires our praise. “You shall have no other gods before Me,” says the first commandment ( Deut. 6:7). As the psalmist said, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” ( Psalm 150:6).
As we praise God, we will discover incredible benefits for our lives. That’s because human beings were created by God to praise Him ( Isa. 43:7, Matt. 21:16). Due to man’s original sin, however, this relationship was disrupted. Praising God helps restore us to that right relationship, for God actually dwells in the praises of His people ( Psalm 22:3). As we draw near to the Father in praise, He draws near to us ( James 4:8).
Praise is also our ultimate destiny. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns again to earth, all creation — including prideful mankind — will recognize His glory and praise Him ( Phil. 2:9-11).
PRAISE FOR PROTECTION
God also gives us assurances of additional blessings as we praise Him. When we praise God, He honors us as His children, and provides His loving protection ( 2 Sam. 22:47-51). Failure to praise God, however, leaves us out of fellowship with God and out of His divine protection ( 1 Samuel 2:27-32).
Our praise can also serve as a powerful witness to those who do not know the Lord ( 1 Peter 2:9). Also, God can work miraculously through our praises. The ancient walls of Jericho came crashing down, giving victory to God’s people, as a result of shouts of praise ( Joshua 6:1-21). The prison doors shook open when Paul and Silas praised God ( Acts 16:25-26).
OBSTACLES TO PRAISE
Praise is both important and powerful. So why is it so difficult at times to praise God? The Bible explains that, even with the power of the indwelling Jesus, our hearts are still “more deceitful that all else” (Jer. 17:9). We sometimes forget that we are always dependent on God to live victoriously in this life.
Satan therefore tries to persuade us that we will eventually reach a point where we can “do it ourselves.” The Scriptures are clear that Satan “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” ( 1 Peter 5:8).
Disguised as an “angel of light,” the devil and his host seek subtly to subvert the praises the children of God owe to their heavenly Father.
God, however, has given us grace in times of need, provided we humble ourselves (Matt. 23:12; James 4:5-10). Praising God allows us to defeat the strategies of the enemy. As God’s adopted children, we no longer have to remain slaves to sin (Gal. 4:6-7). We have a powerful spiritual weapon in praise, and it is guaranteed to be effective (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
LIVING A LIFE OF PRAISE
It is vitally important to live in an attitude of praise toward God. But what can you do if you are having difficulty maintaining a life filled with praise?
1. Commit your life to Christ. First, be absolutely sure that you have placed your complete faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. The Bible says that “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” ( Rom. 10:9). The life of praise begins here, with the confession of your mouth that “Jesus is Lord.”
2. Confess sin and repent. Sin, including prideful self-reliance, separates us from God and from His love and protection. But we have the assurance of forgiveness if we come to Him in repentance ( 1 John 1:9). Confess any known sin and ask God to search your heart. Then, receive His forgiveness.
3. Praise God anyway! Despite your present feelings, it is important to offer praise to God, what Hebrews 13:15 calls a sacrifice” of praise. Despite our feelings or circumstances, God often asks us to take the first step, especially when He is trying to help us grow in our faith ( James 1:2-4).
4. Join together with other believers. Sharing your struggles with another brother or sister in Christ is not only good idea ( Ecc. 4:9-10), it is commanded ( James 5:16). Uniting with other believers in regular worship is also a key to being able to praise God ( Heb. 10:24-25).
AS YOU PRAY
Are you living a life filled with praise for God? If not, take a few moments to examine your life and your relationship with Jesus. If you have not made Him Lord of your life, start there. Then, confess any known sin and receive His forgiveness. Ask Him to renew you and refresh your spirit.
Turning Complaining Into Praise
“It is good to praise the Lord … For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.” Psalm 92:1a-4 (NIV 1984)
A few months ago I noticed the climate in my home had changed. It seemed nothing was good enough, attitudes were negative and a lot was being taken for granted. Appreciation had turned to complaint and contentment to displeasure. My family was snippy and short in our treatment of one another.
One day I had had enough and declared, “This has got to stop!”
The Lord whispered the word praise to my heart and showed me we had become praise-less. On the way home from my kids’ school I issued the following decree: “From today forward we are going to be a grateful family, thanking God for everything He does. Whether the blessing is big or small, direct or indirect, we are going to praise Him.”
I purchased a small notebook and placed it and a pen on our TV stand. Later that day, I peeked inside and was delighted to read my daughter had recorded the first praise. “I made brownies today. Dance Central and Kinect gives me a way to exercise inside.” The days followed with more praises recorded from our whole family.
• Mrs. Macedo, my English teacher• Selling 31 boxes of Girl Scout cookies
• Daddy’s job• Family devotions this morning
• 85 boxes of Girl Scout cookies sold• Erin is spending the night
• My ticket was thrown out of court (This was my personal favorite)
The more we gave thanks, the more our attitudes changed.
In today’s key verse, the psalmist teaches us that praising God is good. There is something mysteriously powerful about giving glory to the Lord. The joy created by my family’s praise transformed the once unpleasant climate to one that is now warm and accepting, appreciative and complimentary.
Is our home always full of compliments and kindness? No, we are human and can easily fall back into complaining. But our family’s praise book has made us more aware of God’s goodness and we give praise more readily. We’ve experienced how good it really is to praise God.
Every day gives us opportunities to worship God, whether they seem minute or mighty. Through praise, our burdens don’t seem so heavy and our life becomes a sweet fragrance to those around us.
Try it. Try praising God for the parking space close to the door or the one far away because you have the opportunity to enjoy being outdoors. Praise Him for the kindness of the bank teller. Praise Him for the opportunity to wake up and hear creation’s symphony of praise, even if it is 5:00 am on a Saturday and the dog woke you up.
Give praise today. It’s good for you and will transform you and others.
Dear Lord, I want to sing a song of praise everyday in response to Your goodness. Prick my heart to praise You in the minute and the mighty. You are worthy! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What it Means to Praise God and Why It’s Good For Us
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His name. Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…. Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1-2,22).
Again and again, throughout Scripture, we are enjoined, instructed, commanded and reminded to praise God. To bless His name. To burst forth in worship during which we say things like “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessings” (Revelation 5:12).
How come? What good does this do to tell God that He is Lord and Master of the universe? Sure He already knows who He is (see John 13:1-4). Being complete within Himself, God does not need our praise.
So, what’s this all about?
It’s a fair question and one that has been asked and answered by disciples far better than this poor child.
As a new believer, C. S. Lewis had trouble with the question: “I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it.” (Reflections on the Psalms)
This being my blog, and Psalm 103 having been dealt with on these pages in recent days, it now falls to me to make an attempt to answer the question: What is it to bless God with praise and what good is it? (Again, I’m grateful to Dr. Lewis whom I shall quote below.)
A Word Study of Praise
Eulogia. Barak. The first is Greek and the second Hebrew.
The Hebrew word comes from a root meaning “to kneel,” we’re told. So, as before royalty, we lower ourselves. We worship and honor.
Eulogia literally means “a good word” or “to speak well of.” When we bless someone we give them words of help, encouragement, honor. “You blessed me,” we might say to one who gave assistance in a needed time. Luke 6:27 calls on us to bless our enemies, meaning we are to say positive, Christ-honoring words to them instead of what our carnal nature suggests.
The matter of blessing God is complicated just a tad by Hebrews 7:7 where we read, “I say beyond all contradiction that the lesser is blessed by the greater.” The writer was calling attention to Melchizedek’s blessing of Abraham at the end of Genesis 14. That act made him greater than Abraham, is the point. But it certainly does not apply when we bless God.
A Parable to Help Understanding Blessing God with Praise
Let’s say you are a kid just out of high school, green behind the ears, and without any real talents except one: you are eager. You’ve been hired by a large company to perform menial tasks. One day, to your complete surprise, you are summoned to the big office and ushered into the inner sanctum where the big boss, the CEO, awaits. He has an errand for you to run. Just for him.
You are more than a little shocked. This is a man of great power. He has thousands of employees. He could give this assignment to assistants who are more experienced and capable than you will be in years. And yet, he is choosing you. You are honored, yes, but overwhelmed is more like it.
You are to travel to a location at the edge of the city and speak to someone in authority on behalf of your boss and deliver a message. That’s all. About as simple as it gets. Out you go. You take the bus for several miles and then transfer to another bus which will deliver you to your destination. And along the way, you start worrying.
Can you do this? Who are you, just a kid with no skills. You have no experience dealing with powerful executives such as the man you will be calling upon. Will you stutter and stammer and be unable to speak? Are you dressed well enough? What if they don’t allow you into his presence? What if the man has bodyguards and layers of authorities–assistants, secretaries, security people–who won’t let you through? How will you be able to return to your employer and report that you failed?
You work yourself into a lather worrying about this. So, you pull the cord and get off at the next corner. You sit on a park bench, take out your phone and call the boss.
‘Sir,” you say hesitantly. “Sir, I’m not sure I can do this. I mean, who am I? And what if his people won’t let me in to see him? What if he laughs at me, just a kid trying to deliver such an important message? What if I fail?”
The boss has dealt with fearful underlings before. He does not rebuke you. He says quietly, “All right, son. Listen to me.”
“This is not about you. This is about me. You work for me. You are on a mission for me. Do you get that?” You nod.
“So, I want you to repeat after me…Ready? Say this along with me…” .
- “My boss is a powerful man in a huge company.”
- “My boss is in charge.”
- “My boss chose me.”
- “My boss believes in me….It is a privilege to serve him in this way….How people respond to my boss’ message is not my worry….My job is to deliver the message….This is not about me…This is about being faithful…doing my job…honoring my employer.”
As you repeat those words–and continue saying them after you’ve ended the phone call–you find things happening. You feel at peace. You are confident. You are energized to go about your assignment. You are thankful to have such an employer. You are determined to serve him well and make him glad he chose you.
A few minutes later, you are standing at the door about to enter where you will carry out your assignment. You begin to hesitate. Fear creeps in. But you know what to do. You speak to yourself: “My boss is a powerful man. He knows what he is doing. This is not about me. He is in charge. I will be faithful. I will honor this one who trusts me.” And you march in and do your job confidently. You are relaxed and smiling, pleasant and confident.
Okay. That is what blessing God does.
When we praise God, many things happen…
Blessing God honors God. We are giving Him the praise He is due. We are saying the most basic truth in the universe: God is God and I’m not.
- We remind ourselves who is in charge and that we are not on our own out here.
- We reorder our little corner of the universe, putting things back in order.
- We put the emphasis back where it should be.
- Blessing God changes our focus.
- It relieves our anxieties.
- It clears our vision to see beyond our trials.
- We love Him more after praising Him.
- We enjoy His presence more as a result.
- It breaks the cycle of self-absorption which often engulfs hurting people.
- It opens our hearts to receive His love
- It shows the Father that His child is “getting it.”
- It relaxes our fears.