[‘encouragement’, ‘exhortation’, for life and ministry]
People who never find anything to praise live very sad lives. People who praise God are doing what God made them to do. People who praise things other than God, or more than God, are distorted, distracted and damaged by their idolatry.
A praise-filled life is not about ourselves, happy or sad, busy or not, cheerful or depressed. It is about God: who God is, how he has revealed himself to us, what he has said, what he has done, and how he is worthy of all our praise.
A praise-filled life is focussed on God, not ourselves. It is our best hope of escaping our natural self-centredness, selfishness, and self-worship. Praising God enables us to gradually change from being curved-in-on-ourselves, to being open towards God.
In the words of Brian Rosner, ’The choice for all of us is between a starring role in our own short story, the genre of which could be a tragedy or a farce, or a small role in the grand story of God and the redemption of the world’.
A praise-filled life is not only God-centred, but you also want to share your praise of God with others, and encourage them to praise God too. ‘Sing to the LORD, praise his name, proclaim his salvation…’ [Ps 96:2].
Praise is usually linked to thankfulness, but there is an important distinction between them. We thank someone for a gift, we praise them for who they are as a giver. It is good to thank God for the gifts he gives us, but ever better to praise him as ‘the giver of every good and perfect gift’ [James 1:17]. Praising God for who he is, focuses entirely on God: thanking him for a gift we have received focuses on us as well as focussing on God.
Of all our praying, praising God is the least self-centred, and the most God-centered! ‘We love self for self’s sake; then we love God for self’s sake; finally we love God for God’s sake’. [Adapted from St Bernard of Clairvaux].
We are made to praise God.
‘You stir us to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’ St Augustine. Notice the significance of ‘praise’ in the first part of this well-known quotation. For Augustine, Resting in God = Praising God!!!
Praising God should be part of our life.
‘We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.’ C. S. Lewis.
The danger of not habitually praising and thanking God.
‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened’ [Romans 1:21, and see Acts 12:23].
Praising God, because he is worthy of our praise, is our eternal song.
To God the creator: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’
To the slaughtered and standing Lamb: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God, persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!’
To God and the Lamb: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever! … Amen…’ [Revelation 4:11,5:9-10,12-14].
Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Fill every part of me with praise;
Let all my being speak
Of Thee and of Thy love, O Lord,
Poor though I be and weak
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e’en the praising heart,
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part
So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free,
But all my life, in every step,
Be fellowship with Thee.
Dear heavenly Father, please help everyone who reads these words make progress towards a praise-filled life and a praise-filled ministry.
In Jesus’ name, Amen