As a young Jewish kid, I could never understand why people praised the God of the Universe. Or how praising this God could be interactive, enjoyable and personal.
Indeed, the tepid thanks we gave at each Passover dinner was tragically dull and lifeless. It was all about what God did for us in the ancient past. And never about reveling in God’s current relationship with us.
We would thank God for the ten plagues. We would thank God for parting the Red Sea. And most of all, we’d thank God for making the Egyptians such lousy swimmers. But this kind of praise was bereft of spice or texture. I craved it like I would a breakfast of sawdust. Or a jug of plain oatmeal without the raisins.
Sadly, this is probably why most Christians have such an empty praise life. We’re convinced that we should be thanking God only for sawdust and oatmeal. And then, when we get bored of it, we actually feel guilty for not praising Him more often.
If this is all there is to praising Jesus, then you should be bored. But the solution is not just more praise. It’s engaging in a new type of praise. It’s praising God for His personhood, not just for what He’s done for you.
Typical Christian Praise
Typically, we sing praises to God once or twice a week at church. And sometimes we say a ritual “Thank you” at meals. But what’s our praise like on Monday through Saturday? Usually we have no idea how to praise our God. That is, of course, unless He’s just done something really good for us or our loved ones.
So it’s “Thank you Lord for getting me the job!” Or “Thank you Lord for getting my child off drugs” or “Thank you Lord for travel mercies.”
There’s nothing wrong with this type of praise. But it’s only the beginning. Black and white TV is OK. But color TV is much better. As we expand how we praise, the Lord supernaturally allows us to see Him in color.
The Problem: We Praise God’s Hand More Than His Face
The fact is that most of the time we’re not praising God at all. We’re just thanking Him for the last special thing He did for us. Our praises are dull because we’re thanking God’s hand, not seeking God’s face.
Praises like this ignore God’s personhood. And so we’re stuck waiting for Him to get us out of another scrape before we can praise Him again. No wonder our praises are so few and far between!
Worse, this kind of praise puts the focus on a thing, rather than on a person. It unwittingly exalts the gift over the Giver. God is far more than the sum of all His gifts to us. For a deep and fulfilling praise life, we should be praising Him in the context of the intimate, personal relationship we have with Him. We should be praising back to Him His holy and loving attributes. (Much of which is found in the four gospels, Psalms, and Proverbs.)
To make praise more personal, think about how you would praise a parent or a spouse. If your mom cooked you an excellent dinner, would you thank her for her stove? Or if your dad gave you money for a new car, would you thank him for his wallet?
This is how we treat God with our praises. We say “Thank you for your strong hand.” But rarely, do we say “Thank you Lord for who you are.” We try to be grateful for the last big favor He just performed for us. And yet somehow we overlook that like a mom or dad, there is far more to this relationship than mere gifts.
Is it any wonder that our gratitude slips away like sand through our fingers? Who really has gratitude just because of the gifts they receive? Gratitude is almost always attached to a person. And it’s grounded in our special relationship with that person.
We delight so much more knowing that the gift giver truly loves us, or is eternally loyal to us, or that in spite of our hardheadedness, is always forgiving us; always cherishing us, always protecting us. Our gratitude stems from knowing the great character and love of the Giver. The gifts are just commentary. (Small notes we crib in the margins but which take a back seat to the person who loves us in spite of all our shortcomings.)
A Different Type of Praise That Delights in Who God Is
We desperately need good examples of praise. These below are different from what most people are used to. But when offered sincerely, this type of praise can help you press deep into the divine relationship. Your praise becomes exciting and engaging, because suddenly you are delighting and abiding in the personhood of Jesus.
Note that your praise for God can include what the Bible says about Him, how He’s helped you and others in the past and even what He is doing at this moment in your life. But key is weaving in something about His divine character. The focus is our holy and loving God. Not just the thing He did for us lately.
Examples of Praise
- Jesus Lord, I’m a mess but Your word says You love me anyway. Thank you!
- King, O God, I’ve still got troubles, but you continue to bail me out of so many of them and provide for me. Thank you Lord.
- WOW Jesus, I was lonely today and you had a good friend call me. You forever remind me that you never give up on me.
- Lord you’re amazing. 5 years ago I hadn’t talked to my mother for a decade, and now you’re having me visit her! Your eye is on the sparrow. You make the galaxies and yet you care for the littlest things in my life!
- Lord I marvel how you are so kind. I read how you forgave the adulteress, forgave Peter and that your yoke is easy and your burden is light. Who are you Lord???? Thank you so much that you love me and forgive me, over and over again!
- Lord, in the morning my heart sucked and I was angry at everyone, but later on you changed my whole outlook so I had a surprisingly good day. Why are you so gracious that you care so much for someone so flawed as me? THANK YOU
- Oh Jesus, Help me delight in you, for you are good and worthy of my gratitude. I want to please you and make you smile.
- King, today at the park, I saw a little girl run into her daddy’s arms and I thought of you. Do you really see me like that little girl? Show me how to jump into your arms!
- Lord, if you are pleased with me, teach me your wonderful ways, so I will know you and continue to find favor with you.
- Jesus Lord, I am stunned how you deliver me in ways I never expected, and gently show me how I misjudge others over and over again. Please help me learn from you and delight in You. I want to please you and make you smile.
- Lord, your ways are so much higher and better than my ways. Thank you not just for what you do; But for who you are! Show me how to walk as You do. For I know your Holy Spirit is inside of me!
How I Praise The Lord In The Psalms, Proverbs and The Songs I Sing
The words Thee, Thou and He are far less personal than the word You. So where it says “He is Great.” I substitute “You are great.” Where it says “He is holy.” I say “You are holy.” Where it says He is good, I praise Him with “Yes, You are good Lord!“
This makes it more intimate and personal for me. And the Lord aligns my heart with my words. I often praise when I am walking, sometimes when I’m driving and sometimes when I’m on by bed reading the Bible as I dry off from a shower. For more help to start off praising Him, see these Praise Starters straight out of Scripture.
Songs of Praise
Blogs on Praise (Christian-SOS)
Freeing Up Quality Time For The Creator Of The Universe
Why we need prayer time and what to do with it.
How to carve out time during our daily routines.
Top 3 Reasons Why Christians Remain Small
Are you growing in knowledge but never really maturing? Do you panic whenever there’s hardship in your life? Perhaps the reasons why are here.
Does God Like Us?
If God likes us, how is this different than love? Does it change how we spend our time with Him?