Often, when I am writing a lesson, sermon, or “The
on a particular subject, I look for pertinent quotes on that subject in a number of sources. Today I wanted to see what I could find on the subject of “praise” and I was shocked to find only one quote. So, next I searched for “adoration” – although it is not quite the same as “praise” – but it wasn’t listed even once! Two of the most vital elements of prayer and both were conspicuous by their absence!
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised, because I have found that many people associate prayer and worship with no more than “asking” and “getting.” I was reminded of the little boy who was asked by his pastor if he prayed every night when he went to bed. “No,” replied the youngster, “some nights I don’t need anything!”
“Asking” in prayer is fine, but prayer should be a lot more than a shopping list of “wants” and presumed “needs.” This spring and summer I have been most thankful for those days cool enough for me to begin my day at 7 a.m. in our backyard with its greenery and magnificent, towering trees that have grown and grown in the 34-plus years I have lived at this address. In that kind of setting praise comes easily. But when fall and winter arrive and I move indoors for my devotions, I sometimes get immediately all wrapped-up in my “TO DO” list of errands I want God “to run” for me. GIVING PRAISE
Once, teaching a youth class on prayer, I mentioned the primacy of praise for our prayer life. One boy exclaimed, “I don’t understand: surely God doesn’t need praise from us. So who needs praise?” Whether or not an almighty and all-sufficient God actually needs to receive our praise, or simply desires it, we are in constant need of giving it.
Why? Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard said: “Prayer does not change God, but changes him who prays.” So we need to lose ourselves in adoration of a Divine Reality so magnificent that we are both humbled and exalted. And from that experience of humility and exaltation we can be changed from what we are to what we were born to be.
Psalm 66 is a magnificent example of the power of praise and adoration. The first four verses are a compelling call to worship: “Make a joyful noise to God, all
the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious
(vs.1,2). The psalm begins as an experience of a group at worship and it is as a people that the gracious deeds of God are recounted in vs. 5-9: “Come and
see what God has done: he is terrible in his deeds among
(The term “terrible” may jar us, but God’s deeds are a cause for terror only for those who oppose him; for those who do his will those deeds are instead “awesome.”) BEYOND WORDS
Verses 10-12 inject a theme that is sorely neglected today when the love of God is celebrated without taking into consideration his judgment. Yes, God is love, but he is also the Judge who requires of us a righteousness that goes beyond words. When we set ourselves against his will, there will likely be consequences from which even his mercy will not free us. “Sorry” may restore our relationship with God, but it may not undo the harm our sins have caused. Someone once challenged me: “Have you made peace with your Maker?” “Yes,” answered, “just about every day.”
Until now, the emphasis has been upon “us,” but now we hear the pledge of the psalmist as an individual: “will come into thy house with burnt offerings; I will pay
thee my vows, that which my lips uttered and my mouth
promised when I was in trouble”
(vs. 13-15). The psalm then closes on an upbeat note: a personal testimony to the goodness of the Lord. “Come and hear, all you who
fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for me. cried aloud to him , and he was extolled with my
tongue… But truly God has listened; he has given heed to
the voice of my prayer”
Praise: who needs to give it? We all do!