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When we think of how to praise God, we first think of Sunday morning worship. We associate singing songs, raising our hands, and shouting for joy with praise and worship. But, praising God involves so much more than song. You feel this in your gut, but maybe you struggle with what praise is, what it means. If it’s not just a song, then what else is it?
Praise God with your testimony.
The definition of praise is to express warm approval or admiration of someone or something. So, when we praise our children, we acknowledge that they did something worthy of recognition. We may say things like, “Well done!” “Great game!” or, “A+ for you!” The world offers awards, pay raises, trophies, and ceremonies as celebratory praise of great accomplishments. Some areas of life that we naturally approve of and admire excellence in include: academics, sports, business, and entertainment.
But, how do we express warm approval and admiration of God? One of the ways we can praise God is by recognizing his role in the events of our lives. When we shout from the rooftops, “Let me tell you about this great God and what he does!,” we acknowledge and admire his power, his worthiness, his glory, and his wisdom. And, when we build pillars of remembrance by sharing our testimony with our children, we praise him.
Look to the Psalms
The best examples of praise are the Psalms. The Psalms are full of ways to praise God. To help you, I have listed some references below:
Psalm 19: 1-4: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth their words to the ends of the world.
And this verse.
Psalm 51: 15-17: O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
How about this one?
Psalm 68:34-35: Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies. You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!
Or this beautiful one?
Psalm 150: Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
You can get started writing down your praises with this journal. It includes Scripture quotes inside.
Praise God with your attitude.
Another way we show our admiration, or praise God, is through our attitude of reverence and respect. We do this with people, so certainly we ought to do this with God! Whenever we meet someone who has won an award or a trophy, we give them special treatment. Here is someone worthy of respect, we think. We often listen carefully to their advice and watch how they live. Sometimes, we find ourselves trying to imitate that person’s habits and routine. Deep down, we desire to be them. If we’re not careful, our recognition can turn into worship of that person.
That is how it ought to be with our Lord. Our attitude of reverence toward his Word, his temple, and his creation should reflect our awe and fear of him. Remember that praise also means warm approval? When we are talking about God, warm approval means that we agree with him. We agree with Jesus about sin, salvation, and sanctification. And, we agree that He is God and we are not. Our reverential attitude reflects our agreement. He doesn’t agree with us, we agree with him. He doesn’t praise us. We praise him. He alone is worthy to be praised.
Praise God with your habits and actions.
If we agree with him and hold deep reverence and respect for him, we naturally want to imitate him. We usually want to be like those we admire. Of course, our praise overflows into worship. (For some creative worship ideas, click HERE.) If we respect and revere our Lord, we hang on every word he speaks. We relish the opportunity to study his Word. We seek him through prayer. And, we try to do the things we read that Jesus did.
Jesus said in Mark 1: 17: Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. And in John 14: 12-14, he says, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father, And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (emphasis is mine.)
When we praise God with our lives, our lives reflect the reverence and respect that we have for Jesus. People catch us imitating him. In fact, we begin to show the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22). We will also talk about him and the wonderful things he has done. To help you, you might like these beautiful glass stones imprinted with the 9 fruits of the spirit. Like the stones God told the Israelites to use to build a pillar of remembrance at the Jordan River, they can remind you of God’s work in your life.
Praise precedes worship
Because praise naturally overflows into worship, we often see them paired. But, it is possible to praise something without worshiping it. We can praise a beautiful painting, getting a good grade on a test, winning an Olympic medal, or being the top donor. But, we generally don’t worship those things.
However, it is difficult to worship someone that we don’t admire, revere, approve of, or respect. Our worship of God starts with a life of praising him.