Within the book of Psalms, one of the key phrases given over and over is "Praise the Lord". In the opening of Psalm 146: 1-2, we read: "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God while I have being." Then in Psalm 147:1, we read: "Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God, for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting." Each Psalm on to the end of the book (Psalm 150) begins with this phrase. In several of my education classes in college, our professor reminded us that repetition was the best way to bring home a point, and he was right. Any time a phrase or group of words is repeated we know that it is important to remember, and the Psalmists wanted God's people to know the importance of praise. So why is praise so important to the Christian life?
|Stained Glass Window at St. Giles Cathedral|
Secondly, praising God reflects an attitude of obedience. It is not always easy to praise God and at times, it is more than difficult. However, the Lord tells us to offer up a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:5). As scripture tells us, the fruit of our lips is an offering before our Father in heaven. An added benefit to praising God when we are having a hard time is that it lifts us up as we lift Him up. We can offer up righteous praise by singing praise songs or reading the Psalms out loud. Certainly, if we do not know what to praise Him for, we can find abundant reasons in the Bible. I challenge you to try to remain depressed if you make praise a regular part of your prayer life.
Finally, praise keeps our eyes and hearts focussed on what matters most in life - the Lord. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people. Even Jesus reminded us that "where our treasure was there would be our heart also" (Luke 12:34). Investing our songs, words and hearts into the store house of God will reap blessings of a closer relationship to the sustainer of our lives.
|The Cathedral at York, England|
As our minds are renewed through prayer and Bible study, we will not be able to do any less than praise our Lord. In heaven, we will join the angels and the saints who have gone before in unending praise for what God has accomplished. Therefore, we need to spend time practicing here on a daily basis. The alternative, of course, is to lay down and join the boys on "Hee Haw" and start singing about all the gloom and despair. This is what the world does all around us. But if we want to make an impact as God's light and salt in this life, we need to praise the God of our salvation. Let us take to heart the words of the Psalmist: "From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised" (Psalm 113:3). Selah!
How do you praise the Lord? What helps you remember the good things He has done for you? I welcome your thoughts and insights here.