Have you ever thought you knew the definition of a word only to find out that you didn’t really know it at all? I have to laugh at myself because I know I’ve used words improperly only to discover this later on my own. No one corrected me at the time. So, this makes me wonder if they didn’t know the meaning of the word either. The truth is more likely that they were being kind as to not embarrass me! The reason I bring this up is because the word praise falls into that category of words I thought I understood. I'd like to share what I've discovered about praise and how it's a gift to God and to ourselves when we do it. And, I will guide you to create a personal praise prayer from you to God.
Praise the Lord, O my soul
What is Praise?
To praise is to recognize the significant worth of that object, person, or event.1 Webster’s definition of praise uses words like magnificence, holiness, excellent, honored, perfect, approved.2 The capability to praise is not limited to humans for the Bible indicates all that exists praises God. In the Book of Revelation, John says the angels praise. In the Psalms, David proclaims creation praises. As for humans, throughout God’s word there are songs or prayers of praise from people such as Mary, Zechariah, Moses, and David. They couldn’t contain their wonder over God’s magnificence and holiness. These songs and prayers are lengthy and meaningful expressions of a heart-felt awe and love for God and contain much more than a “thank you, God”. If you were to read the praises of those mentioned above, you can find five elements in each one. First, they acknowledge God as Sovereign Lord using different types of descriptors and then they address His mercy, power, provision, and faithfulness. They identify God’s attributes and how it impacted or is impacting their life. Interestingly, if you were to recite the Lord’s Prayer, you can find many of these elements contained within it as well. Each one of the elements assigns worth to what He has done, is doing, and will do for them and with them.
What’s Happening When We Praise?
We are turning our focus to God.
We are giving God credit for what’s happening in our life. Yes, even for those things allowed by God that hurt and try us. The hurt and the trial change us but sometimes the very things that hurt us gives us an opportunity to help those who must endure such things as we’ve experienced. It's a chance to offer hope.
We are humbling ourselves as children of the Lord Almighty. We are acknowledging His power and sovereignty. We are recognizing our need for His mercy and that He is our provider.
We are remembering His faithfulness in the past, relying on it in this day, and proclaiming a belief in it for the future. Any and all unknowns for us are always known to God.
It's a love offering. We are offering a heart-devoted. We are offering an intentional love. We are offering a determined trust.
What is Happening When we Don’t Praise?
There are things that hurt us so badly we can’t praise and we don’t have to praise God for those things. When we can’t praise God, we can still reach out to Him and offer our devastated heart into His compassion-filled hands. He can give us such a comforting peace found nowhere else. We can share with Him our brokenness so we may be healed and restored.
There are other times when we can praise, but don’t. Why? Is it because we’re too busy? Are we taking God for granted or crediting our own efforts? Are we failing to meditate on God's very present presence? I think it’s just forgetfulness. While we’re more likely to praise God for the “big” things that he works out, life is made of small things, small events. I am missing out on God’s faithful work in my life when I fail to be mindful and recognize how He is works daily, even hourly, on my behalf. The little things add up and, over time, I have a personal history of God’s faithfulness to me that empowers me like nothing else. To miss the small stuff makes me weak. I need to remember and acknowledge because the enemy wants me to forget. In this world where I get to control very little, I do get to control this much—choosing to mediate on God’s faithfulness so I can create and offer extravagant praise to my Lord. He deserves it!
How Does God's Creation Praise the Lord?
Mary and David’s Songs of Praise
The praise songs of Mary and David are an intentional out-pouring of their love and worship of God. David’s praise is full of action verbs telling the reader to remember, give thanks, publish, tell, honor and so on. David’s praise proclaims that heaven and every bit of earth’s creation praises God. This is a man, a king, who holds back nothing from his God. He showers God with full-on extravagant praise.
When we read Mary’s praise song, her words share a humbleness, joy, and a remembrance of God’s power and provision. Contained within both praise songs are powerful encouragement. When I read these songs of praise, I can’t help but be moved by their trust and hope in the Lord. Mary and David are only two of the many people who praise is recorded in the Bible. Paul and Silas sang songs in prison. Whether it was worship or praise they kept their hope and faith alive by offering their hope-filled hearts to God. That’s what praise does—it encourages, it empowers, it lifts our eyes up, it finds hope in emptiness.
I seek to be a woman who praises God as often as possible. That hasn't always been the case. My focus was blurred and I missed God's presence. You know why I decided to change? Because my heart failed to thrive. It was dark, overgrown with bitterness, sadness, and the soil was dry. Nothing good to grow in my heart. When I intentionally decided to look for God's presence in my trials, I saw opportunities to praise. When I seek to find Him, you bet I do and I praise His faithfulness! God deserves my praise and I want to give it to Him. And when I do, I get a gift as well. My heart opens and I get even more of what makes me thrive: light, love, peace, joy....
Create a Praise Prayer
If you've never created a praise prayer, I encourage you to try it and use it as a beautiful start to your day or to enter your night’s rest. There’s no formula to praise God. All you need is the love in your heart for Him, but if you’d like a little direction on writing a prayer I’ll share a few tips.
Start with a statement acknowledging God as Lord and describe what makes Him Lord. Example: Heavenly Father, holy, majestic Lord. There is no other God but you.
Include a statement on why God’s presence in your life is so important to you. Example: God, you are my wisdom, my protector, and my security.
Identify His faithfulness in your life. Example: Jesus, you gave me courage during…and provided what I couldn’t for myself. I know you’ll give me that same courage in this day.
Tell Him why you want His mercy and grace. This statement relays your humbleness.
Most importantly, praise is about love. Tell God why you love him and what He means to you. That’s exactly what Mary and David did. You can be certain that God loves to receive your love and your praise prayer is a gift from your heart to Him.
Praise is a Gift!
Praise encourages your heart when you acknowledge God’s faithful activity in your life.
Praise is an intimate act, an offering from your heart to your Lord and Savior.
I hope praise permeates your life! I welcome your thoughts and comments. Thank you for sharing this post and being such a faithful community. Fondly, Terri
1 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
2 Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary