Life of Praise
By Stacey S. Padrick Thompson
Standing in the large auditorium as the popular Christian band began playing, the crowd erupted with shouting, clapping, and jumping to the beat. Some seemed to be playing shaking invisible tambourines! As I watched, I wondered why my praise of God often lacks that intensity and excitement.
Throughout Scripture, we are commanded to praise God. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Ps.150:6). Yet sometimes we find it easier to clap our hands before a popular band than before the very Author of music.
How can we cultivate a life of praise in the everyday ups and downs? Let’s look at why we praise, when we praise, and ways to praise.
REASONS FOR PRAISE
God is worthy of praise
We praise God because He is the Most High God who “stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth” (Is. 51:13). He is worthy and deserving of our praise! During Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the disciples began praising God joyfully. When the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke the disciples for such a display of praise, Jesus responded, “I tell you ... if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Lk. 19:40).
Praise deepens intimacy with God
Praise not only draws us closer to God, but through our praise, He is drawn closer to us. He “inhabit[s] the praises” of His people (Ps. 22:3, KJV). When King Solomon dedicated the temple, the priests gathered together and lifted their voices. As they prepared to offer sacrifices to the Lord, they began praising with abandon, singing and shouting, “He indeed is good for His loving kindness is everlasting” (2 Chron. 5:13, NASB).
Praising God blesses us
God desires us to follow His commands not only to bring Him glory, but to bring us blessings. Moses exhorted the Israelites to “walk in his ways, and to keep his commands ... and the Lord your God will bless you” (Deut. 30:16).
When I served as a teacher in Asia, I struggled to adjust to the culture and the lack of fellowship with other believers. Terrible headaches began plaguing me. Even after much prayer, the pain persisted. One morning the lyrics of a song reminded me of the importance of praise. As I began actively praising God for His power and faithfulness, my anxiety quieted and my headache subsided. By praising, God brought blessings.
Praise is a weapon in spiritual warfare
Praise is a powerful weapon to break down walls and win battles as we fight to extend God’s kingdom into places the enemy holds in bondage. After being thrown into prison, Paul and Silas began to pray and sing hymns of praise to God (Acts 16:25). In response to their supplication and praise, God sent an earthquake that burst open the prison doors. Not only were Paul and Silas physically released, but the jailer and his entire household were spiritually released and baptized in the Lord Jesus (vv. 26–33).
PRAISE AND DISAPPOINTMENT
What do we do when our hearts are not brimming with praise? Do we wait until we experience good feelings about God and see answers to prayers? In disappointment, I must choose to praise God even when I do not feel like it. Habakkuk wrote, “Though the fig tree does not bud ... and the fields produce no food ... , yet I will rejoice in the Lord” (Hab. 3:17–18).
Even when God says “no” to a prayer request, we are still called to praise Him. After David fasted and prayed for seven days for the healing of his sick child, the child died. David “got up from the ground, went into the house of the Lord and worshiped” (2 Sam. 12:20). Job responded to his devastating losses by saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). I chose to praise Him and experienced deep assurance of His sovereignty and goodness.
WAYS TO PRACTICE PRAISE
“How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” (Ps. 147:1). Don’t wait until Sunday morning to exercise your vocal cords. Try singing a spontaneous song of praise from your heart to God. “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Ps. 149:1).
We always have something to praise Him about: His steadfast love, holiness, majesty, patience, and power. Let the wonder of His unchanging character sink deeply into your heart. Soon you will be overflowing with praise for Him.
Use your body
Worship involves our whole being: mind, spirit, and body. Turn on some praise music and use your body—His temple—to physically express praise for God. Lift up your hands, kneel or lay prostrate, bow your head or lift it up, sing, and even dance: “Praise him with tambourine and dancing” (Ps. 150:4).
Praise with others
Take time in a group prayer meeting to begin your praying with praise. Or end your prayer time with praise for God's infinite power.
We were created to worship God. In Eph 1:12, Paul says that we were created to live “for the praise of His glory.” As you practice lifting your heart in praise to God in the everyday details of life—even when problems mount, disappointments come, and prayers seem unanswered—you may be surprised at what happens. Who knows, you might even find yourself buying a tambourine!