I was thinking about the word “praise” the other day- what it means and why we do it. I’d never really studied the word before. I just assumed I knew what it means. After all, I “praise” every Sunday at my church, and often when I’m alone- usually in the car! Don’t be alarmed- I don’t raise BOTH hands, usually that is! So what are we really doing when we praise? And why do we do it? Can you praise wrong? All questions I let myself think as I decided to approach the word praise as if I’d never heard of it before. I figured if I looked at it as something completely new I would learn something new. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
So to start, I decided to do the obvious: look up the word in a dictionary. I used the online Merriam Webster and McMillan Dictionaries. I found that praise is a verb. It is an action. Something we do. I also noticed with Merriam Webster’s definition. It distinguishes that it can be a transitive verb or intransitive. Because the praise I am talking about is directed towards God (our object), we will look at the Merriam’s definition for the transitive verb definition of the word Praise. Here is what Merriam Webster says;
1. to express a favorable judgment of :
2 to glorify (a god or saint) especially by the attribution of perfections
notice we can praise something or someone else and that is considered idolatry.
Okay on to McMillan’s definition
1. to express strong, approval or admiration for someone or something, especially in public
2. to worship God with words or music
Very interesting. McMillian even mentions music! After reading through the definitions, I decided I do have a firm grasp on the meaning of the word praise. I still benefited by thinking about it more in depth for I also see that praise, as far as towards God can be done in vain without a real effect, which would be of course unpleasing to God. If our heart is not in agreement with what our lips are saying and our hands are doing, it isn’t true praise. How can you praise in truth if your heart is not in it? How can you praise if you don’t see God as perfect and praise worthy? It has to start with the attitude of your heart. Luke 6:45 says;” A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” So if your heart is filled with gratitude and admiration for God you can’t help but praise. It will just pour out of you naturally. You may praise by singing, verbally giving thanks, prayer or shouting and lifting you’re hands. The main thing is that God is the main thing! He is the one you’re praising and not anyone or anything else.
We should praise because God is worthy of our praise. That sums it up.
Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
Here’s a beautiful song by Rachael Lampa – My Father’s Heart