As a believer in church today, you see a pretty standard structure to the Sunday morning service. We greet each other, grab some coffee, find our familiar seating area, praise and worship, do a bunch of transitions and announcements, and eventually, the sermon. This is the current and modern format for the service. And, we seem to like it. But, why do we do it? Specifically, why do we praise God?
When I first started going to church, praise was a strange thing to me. The first few months after I gave my life to Christ, I struggled with the concept. “Why would God need us to cheer for Him? Does that inspire God? Who are we doing this for?” were my initial thoughts as I began to navigate around this idea. I totally understood the purpose of worship songs, humbling yourself to an all-powerful, all-knowing God. But, the praise songs left me a bit confused, at least at first.
I thought, “does God need a cheerleader? Do we praise Him to build Him up?” Clearly, the omnipotent God we serve and love doesn’t need our praise. Does He? Well, let’s see what the Bible says about this.
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.” – Isaiah 12:4 (NIV)
“I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.” Psalm 66:17
“My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” Psalm 71:8 (NIV)
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16
These scriptures above reveal what I believe is the main purpose for praise. Notice the active words in these scriptures. You cannot proclaim, declare, or sing silently. This is opposite to quiet worship. This is an active and often loud way to communicate with our mouths. Think about it. Since when did anyone start their sentence with “I do declare” and not be standing on some sort of platform or stage talking to the masses? No, praise is heard. It’s a declaration of the goodness of God.
God doesn’t need a cheerleader, at least for His own benefit. While He does enthrone our praises, we don’t praise Him for His benefit. We praise Him for ours. And, apparently, we praise Him for the benefit of others as well. We put on “…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3
Praise is a powerful tool we can use as believers to encourage each other. We praise God together so that we can build each other up in the faith. Praise is a way to overcome fear and despair. It’s more than a singalong. It’s something you shouldn’t miss on a Sunday morning.
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 (NIV)
Most importantly, we praise God because He deserves it. He is worthy of it. Think about what He’s done for you. Doesn’t that make you want to shout it from the rooftops? Ok, perhaps that’s a bit drastic, or even dangerous. But, praise is a bit dangerous, isn’t it? And, in this world, danger is all around us. I think praise is a bit more essential to us now than it’s ever been. So, let’s get to it!