Many years ago I heard a Praise and Worship leader tell a story about a famous person who arrived at an airport and had an entourage of fans cheering for him. As the leader walked by he thought “huh, what’s the big deal?” Praising someone is a big deal for the fans or those who know that person. He obviously earned their respect and may have done something great. The leader said he realized that he didn’t give the guy any praise because he didn’t know him or know about anything he had done.
It is the same with us. We do not praise what or who we don’t know anything or much about. The incredible impact of praise begins with knowing who we praise.
Because He First Loved Us
When we come to know God as our Father and His will for us through His Word, we gain respect for Him as we learn about how much He loves us and has done for us. At first we praise Him for what He’s done for us. Then the more we know Him we begin to admire who He is and grow to love Him. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
How to Praise
The book of Psalms is a wonderful model of how to praise. Psalms means songs of praise. It is a collection of 150 songs that were written by several psalmists over a timespan of one thousand years and made up of eight types of songs. David is the psalmist who composed the most songs with a count of seventy-three. Some songs were written out of lament over the psalmist’s circumstances, some were prophetic as the lyrics spoke of the coming Messiah, and others were for celebrations, worship and praise.
Why to Praise
Not knowing the purpose of a thing may cause you to either misuse it or not take advantage of it. For this reason it is important to know why we praise the Lord. The main reason is because He is worthy! Psalms 145:2-3 states “I will praise you every day; I will praise you forever and ever. The Lord is great and worthy of our praise; no one can understand how great he is.” Because He has done so much for us, the least we can do is give Him the praise, glory, and honor that He deserves. We give God praise because various Bible verses encourage us to do so. Paul said this in Ephesians 5:19 “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Offering our praise to Him brings: us strength (Nehemiah 8:10), deliverance (Psalms 37:4), and victory (Psalms 18:3). It’s no wonder He inhabits our praise (Psalms 22:3). When we praise Him for His goodness and mighty power, He supplies every need we have. We read in 1 Samuel 16:23 that when David played the harp for Saul the distressing spirit left him.
It Begins in the Heart
Praise is a spontaneous overflow of thoughts of God and His goodness. It cannot be worked up, it must be entered into. It is an outpouring of the soul in deep expressions of reverence, awe, wonder and adoration. Praise takes several different outward forms, but begins first in the heart. I have taken the liberty to put a verse with each show of praise to help us understand why we praise in this manner and that it is Biblical.
- Standing: Stand in awe of God and be still. – Psalm 4:4
- Lifting hands: Let the lifting up of hands be as the evening sacrifice. – Ps. 141:2
- Clapping hands: Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! – Psalms 47:1
- Singing: Sing a new song to the Lord, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. – Psalm 149:1
- Shouting: Shout to God with the voice of triumph! – Psalms 47:1
- Bowing or kneeling: Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. – Psalms 95:6
- Falling prostrate: The Wise Men visited Jesus after His birth and going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. – Matthew 2:11-12
- Jumping: Peter and John said to the lame man “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” the man went into the temple walking and leaping and praising God. – Acts 3:8
- Dancing: Then David danced before the Lord with all his might. – 2 Samuel 6:14
- Silence: Truly my soul silently waits for God. – Psalms 62:1
- Tears: is experiencing the intense love and compassion of God. The psalmist declared, “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears” -Psalm 18:6
Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That is exactly what Paul and Silas did in Acts 16:16-28. They had been beaten for casting a spirit of divination out of a slave girl. Her masters, seeing that she couldn’t make them any more money, had Paul and Silas thrown in prison. While shackled in horrible conditions and in great pain from their wounds, they began singing praises to God. An earthquake shook the prison and the cell doors opened freeing the prisoners. The prison keeper was about to kill himself when Paul told him they were all there. He brought Paul and Silas out and asked to be saved. Paul and Silas spoke the Word to his household and all were saved and baptized. There is power in praise!
The Battle Belongs to the Lord
We also read in 2 Chronicles 20 about an army who was coming against King Jehoshaphat. He prayed to God and Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, got a word from the Lord saying “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” Praise comes before the victory. The king appointed singers to go out before the army and praise the Lord, and while they went out singing, the Lord set ambushes against the army who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. Again, there is power in praise!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. – Psalm 150:6