True praise to God is both a spirit and an action of worship. Praising God is neither a vain repetition of words nor merely a feeling; it is a conscious activity of obedience to the Lord where God is thanked, glorified, and exalted.
Praise is not just a suggestion but a command given approximately 250 times in the Bible. King David was a man of praise who had learned the secret of coming into the presence of God. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). The instruction to “serve the Lord with gladness” and to “come before his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2) is more than just an Old Testament practice. God is honored and exalted by praise and adoration; such praise is the duty of mankind. Too many saints view praise as a choice or an option based upon personality type. In Revelation 19:5, 7 “A voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye His servants….Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him.” Romans 15:10-11 further reinforces this command for ALL people to praise the Lord and laud Him.
God is Worthy of Praise
“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 117:1-2). 1 Chronicles 16:23-36 beautifully illustrates the greatness and worthiness of the Lord to be praised. He is the creator of the universe and has all power, honor, and glory. He is good and His mercy endureth for ever. He is the God of our salvation. Verse 29 instructs: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Sacrifice of Praise
People express themselves differently, but praise is a sacrifice that God still requires in the dispensation of grace. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). If there is praise and thanksgiving in the heart, it should come out of the mouth as an offering to the Lord. It may be difficult to praise verbally, but living for God is not always about what is easy. Verbal praise from the heart is required, and it brings a wonderful blessing.
Part of praise is the verbal exaltation of God: “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Glory to God!” “O give thanks unto the Lord….Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (Psalm 107:1-2). Praise is also given in song. “Sing praises to the Lord” (Psalm 9:11). Ephesians 5:19-20 instructs the people of God to sing and give thanks always for all things unto God.
Reasons to Praise God
There are many reasons to praise the Lord. Praise should not be dependent upon circumstances, for God is still God even in the difficult times of life; and He is worthy of praise. Jesus told the disciples to rejoice because their “names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:19-20). Praise the Lord for His provision and His care (Joel 2:26). The children of Israel “shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again”
(1 Samuel 4:5-6) when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into their camp. So it should still be today when the presence of the Lord is in the midst of His people. There is rejoicing and praise. What a wonderful experience it is to be with the saints, praising God in word and in song under the rich anointing of the Holy Spirit. “It is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely” (Psalm 147:1). The absence of praise on a regular basis among professing saints should be a warning sign, for God inhabits praise.
When to Praise
God’s people should rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) and have ready praise for the Lord all the day long (Psalm 35:28). Rejoicing is not only for the good times but during times of fiery trial, suffering, and persecution (1 Peter 4:12-13). It is amazing the change of attitude and spirit that can occur during difficult times when glory and praise is given to God. Praise is not just an activity to be exercised during worship service, but it should be a regular part of daily life. God is to be praised in the congregation (Psalm 149:1) and in the sanctuary of His creation (Psalm 150:1-2). True praise is an expression of love and worship to the Lord from a pure heart.
There are patterns and examples of praise in the early church. When Jesus healed the blind man, the man glorified God and the people “gave praise unto God” (Luke 18:42-43). When the lame man was healed at the temple gate, he went leaping and praising (Acts 3:8-9). He was so happy for what God had done, he did not walk but leaped with joy. One of the most compelling stories of praise is when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a colt. “The whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen” (Luke 19:37). It was not just Peter or the vocal disciples who praised with a loud voice—they all rejoiced. The Pharisees rebuked them and Jesus responded in verse 40: “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Who will praise the Lord if God’s people do not? Should God’s people cower in fear of being branded wrongly? Are the stones crying out?
Zion Offers Praises
The walls of Zion (God’s church) are salvation and the gates of Zion are praise (Isaiah 60:18). When people pass through the gates of praise, they are elevated above the problems of this life and ascend into the overwhelming splendor of Jesus Christ. They become one and part of the true glory of God. The enemy would like to stifle the praise of God’s people. While in Babylonian captivity, the children of Israel hung their harps on the willow trees, wept, and would not sing the songs of Zion (Psalms 137:1-4). However, when they returned to Zion on that highway of holiness, they came with songs and everlasting joy. This should be the reality of God’s people. The saints “should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Jesus taught that “true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth”
(John 4:23). Acceptable praise is led by the Spirit and backed by a life of truth. When praise wells up within, “Quench not the spirit”
(1 Thessalonians 5:19) but let the praises of God ring forth. Praise in collective worship service is not a fleshly display of uncontrolled emotion, for worship should be in reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28). All things should be done “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40), but there should be liberty to praise and not be ashamed (Joel 2:26-27). Christ is the object of true praise (1 Peter 4:10-11), and praise should never be about entertainment or a display of the flesh (Philippians 3:3).
Power in Acceptable Praise
Many worship God with their mouth but their hearts are far from Him (Isaiah 29:13). God rejects this type of praise for He seeks people to praise Him and love Him with all of their hearts. Just because many in Christian fellowships abuse what is termed “praise and worship,” let us not allow the enemy to hijack or steal what rightfully belongs to God’s people. There is great power in personal and collective praise and God is glorified and honored when His people exalt Him with their lives, their hearts, and their mouths.