Six Reasons To Praise Our God

(The Foundations For Praise)

We praise God because He super-abounds in wildly generous love and goodness towards us. Like the first exploding energy emblazoning the newly created universe with light, His grace has burst forth upon the world in Christ Jesus, bringing light to those who sit in darkness, and pronouncing freedom from the worlds mournful captivity (Isa. 42:6, 7; 61:1–3). The primary reason for praise, therefore, is that God is outrageously worthy.

“Holy, holy, holy is God, the sovereign Lord of all, who was, and is, and is to come!…You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you created all things; by your will they were created and have their being!…You are worthy to receive the scroll and break its seals, for you were slain and by your blood you bought for God people of every tribe and language, nation and race…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth, wisdom and might, honor and glory and praise!…Praise and honor, glory and might, to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb for ever” (Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9, 12, 13).

To think of praise as a technique in the light of Gods goodness is to court the disgust of angels. Techniques are of human origin and in most cases self-serving. Techniques start with the human and devolve on the human, and often, in the process, diminish the human.

Praise is rather a response of our very being to the joyful love flowing from the Creator and Redeemer of all being. Though rising from the human, praise does not originate there, but from the munificent kindness of God to us, to which the human can merely respond. Nor does it devolve upon the human, but ends in the glory of God. Yet when mans goal is to live for the praise of Gods glory, he finds the enrichment of his own humanity, not the reduction of it. A man who praises is truly human: a man who does not becomes increasingly unaware of his own gradual descent into the non-person.

Gods worthiness, then, is the first and primary reason for praising Him. He came to us when we were all alone to be our Father and our Friend (Ps. 68:5; John 15:15) He showed us love when all other loves failed (Isa. 62:4). He set up a home in our hearts (John 14:23; 15:4; Rev. 3:20) after we had wandered so far that to go back seemed repulsive and impossible.

Oh Father, you love me! I feel lonely, Lord, but thank You that I have a home in You. And You have prepared eternity for me! I have nothing, Lord, but in You I have everything. I praise you, Lord.

The second reason to develop a heart of praise is that God has given us His Righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30; Heb. 10:14) and thus relieved us of the terrible burden of our own self-knowledge (Rom. 7:17, 20; 1 John 3:19–21). He has given Christ to represent us before Him (1 John 2:1), clothing us with Him, no longer blaming us for anything (Zech. 3:1–4; Rom. 4:7, 8; 8:1), treating us as if we were as good as Jesus is (Rom. 4:5; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:21), and acting towards us as if we were princes (Rom. 8:15–17; Gal. 4:7; 1 Pet. 2:9, 10; Rev 1:5, 6; 5:9, 10).

There is within each of us the recurring accusation of our own hearts. Memory, for a man outside of Christ, is a curse. It depresses the confidence by the recall of lifes failures; it breaks the spirit by the recollection of guilts unresolved; it limits a vision of the future by its picture of the past.

But a man who praises God for the marvelous boon of new beginnings and happy endings that are his by his inclusion in the righteousness of Jesus, destroys the crushing power of memory. It is not that he represses his memories of the past. In fact, his is the only kind of faith that can face those memories head on! And he can do this because faith agrees with God that he is now defined in Jesus, and the self he is in the history of this world is terminated with all the rest of humanity in the death of Christ. His faith disowns it, even while he knows it is his. His is now a new history in Christ and every memory of his other past and present, he dissociates from, saying with Paul, “so it is no longer I that do it”, for “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I” (Rom. 7:17, 20; Gal. 2:20).

Poor me! Yet not me, Father! I praise you that you include me in Jesus, the Only Righteous Man! Lord my memories try to depress me. They try to limit what I think I can do. But, Lord, I praise you that because Jesus is mine, I see who I am and what the world is to me through Jesus eyes.

The third reason to praise is that the victory over Satan and the world has already been won for us by Christ. Says Jesus, “Take courage…I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), and “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Luke 10:18). For God “disarmed the principalities and powers…triumphing over them” in Christ (Col. 2:15).

Before we knew the Victory of Jesus—that it was a victory for us, His people—we saw the Christian life as mainly a life of overcoming. The emphasis, tragically, was almost totally upon us. Jesus had overcome, so we can too, since He is, after all, our example in all things all things, isnt He? We approached resisting every temptation as something we had to achieve, to accomplish. We started, it seemed, from a position of defeat, trying to move towards a position of victory. There was a lot of uncertainty in all this and a lot of fear. We pleaded for victory; to praise for it would have been inconceivable. We always begged; we rarely thanked. And we had become so accustomed to living this way that it never dawned on us that to our minds the Gospel was no longer Good News but bad views.

And then the Gospel shone forth like a beam in our Night. The Victory is already won! And it was won for us by Jesus who heads up a new humanity on our behalf! What else can we do, but praise? When we are faced with temptation, we dont have to plead, we praise!

Father this temptation is hard on me. It scares me, I might fail, but I praise you that the Victory is already won. Whether I succeed or fail, thank you, Father, that this temptation has no power in it.

Yet how, we think, can the victory be already won when the outcome of temptation is so uncertain from day to day? Isnt it unnerving, in fact damned demoralizing, to praise God that the victory is won when we fall so often and disappoint ourselves by demonstrating that our praise is a sham? Ah, but this leads us to the next reason for praise:

The fourth reason for praise is that God our Father in His great love for us has shown us specifically what that victory is which Jesus has won for us, so that our faith can learn how to trust Him and counter our doubt. The Four Principal Forces ranged against the Christian, have been rendered powerless by the Cross of Christ. These powers of Wrath, Sin, Law and Death (Romans 5, 6, 7 and 8), which lead the mind to fall into the terrors of Abandonment (Wrath), Helplessness (Sin), Condemnation (Law) and Despair (Death) are what give our sins their punch. When faith learns to praise God that the power has been taken out of these Forces, our sins gradually lose their hold over us, because it is the continuing belief that these forces ranged behind our sins still have power, and not the sins themselves, which continues to give sin its illusory strength.

So when temptation comes we praise God that He is not abandoning us in it (Wrath) because Christ has reconciled us to the heart of our Father. And when temptation seems so intense, we praise God that we are not helpless under it (Sin), because what makes temptation intense is not primarily the temptation itself, but the fear of Gods abandonment and condemnation under it (1 Cor. 15:56), and these are no more for those trusting in Jesus (Rom. 8:1, 2). And because the power of condemnation is removed (Law) we give thanks to God that whether we overcome or fall, we are not condemned and therefore His love is not removed, and so we gather courage to keep going. And when even courage fails (Death), after endless falls into addictive behavior, we weakly praise God from the bottomless pit of despair that Christ is our resurrection life, even though we are dead (Eph. 2:4–6; Col. 3:1–3). And so our spirit of faith does not give way under the trials of life (2 Cor. 4:8–10), because we know that the victory over this world that is already won is Christs over the Forces that would without Him break us down.

The fifth reason for praise to God is that since Christ by His victory for us at the Cross has rendered powerless the Forces opposed to us, nothing can now be against us and conversely all is for us. To put it another way, Everything against us in this world is actually in our favor!

“With all this in mind, what are we to say? If God is on our side, who is against us?…Who will bring a charge against those whom God has chosen?…Who will pronounce judgement? Not Christ, who died, or rather rose again; not Christ, who is at Gods right hand and pleads our cause! Then what can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or hardship? Can persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or sword? ‘We are being done to death for your sake all day long,’…and yet, throughout it all, overwhelming victory is ours through him who loved us. For I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths—nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31–39 REB).

The man of faith now sees the whole world differently. When trouble or temptation strikes, it is not, as he once feared, that God is against him, or at the least, is not pleased with him, but that “all things are working together for good” (Rom. 8:28). Prosperity and loss are no longer indicators of Gods attitude towards him. Jesus has settled that issue for him forever. Even temptation and the trials and struggles of his sinful nature are no longer against him, but are there to train his faith to live in the only righteous life that ever counts for time and eternity. And so when everything goes wrong, both within and without, he gives thanks to God:

Lord, I am afraid of the world and its power to harm me. But with a faith that praises You, Father, I thank you, for this trouble that has come upon me. The forces of evil are under your victorious control, and nothing can reach me except at your wise, merciful and loving hand. I will not deal with the devil, Lord; I will deal with You, and in dealing with You, Father, I will trust and thank You, that through this my faith in You will grow and Your love for me and Your might will unfold, and what I thought would harm me will only advance me, Father, for You have never failed me, nor have You ever forsaken me.

The sixth reason for praising God is that to praise Him is to bless ourselves, because in Him is our health and well-being. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).

There are six effects praise has upon us men and women of faith:

1. Praise creates altered states of mind. It would be a great mistake to think that since we praise by faith, it must be a head-thing and our depressed or anxious emotions remain as dour as ever. The fact is that as we speak out thanks and praise to God our emotions gradually calm down and begin gradually to line us with our faith. Faith will always be ahead of feelings, but feelings gradually follow.

2. The practice of praise to God awakens a renewed will. In addiction there is a sense that desire and behavior are seamless. We never seem to make a decision to fulfill our desire; it appears merely to happen. But when we learn to praise God in the moment of desire, we notice a brief pause between desire and act in which faith and doubt wrestle for ascendancy. At the moment we praise, we find the desire diminishing, and we realize we are in possession of a new kind of will of the spirit: the power of praise, of which will-power is a counterfeit of the flesh.

3. Praise to God decreases the force of a temptation because the power of a temptation flows not from the object of temptation but from our response to it. If we respond in fear, guilt and panic, the power of the temptation appears to increase. If we respond in calm, thankful praise, the power of the temptation weakens. In fact it is not the temptation that is growing stronger or weaker, but the displacement of fear by praise as the Spirit awakens the sense that we are not alone or condemned but loved and helped by God.

4. Praise to God gradually heals our paranoia towards the world. While responding constantly to guilt, shame and fear, we are in emotional hiding. We fear the worlds challenges are too much for us, and will make us look foolish. But praise to God affirms in us that the world is won for His cause, and even evil things serve Him. We sense the courage of a new adventure towards the world rising in us because everything is under Gods dominion.

5. Praise to God awakens love for others. Before we find the freedom to praise, we are obsessed with our own pain. We are turned inwards. No energy remains for others. But as, through praise, we celebrate ourselves in God, we slowly awaken to the needs of others. We have something to offer them now. We want them to know that they are not abandoned by God, not condemned as they learn to trust, and that death has ended for them too, and an eternal kingdom awaits them.

6. But none of these effects of praise would occur if it were not for the fact that praise to God restores the sense of personhood. Without praise the soul goes into silence; being folds. Only instinctual responses to passions remain. Frozen to death under the forces of Wrath, Sin, Law and Death, how can the soul sing the songs of Zion in this foreign land (cf. Ps. 137:4)? But Christ brings faith to the frozen heart. He tells us He has mastered the dark Forces. Our faith begins to sing again, and the soul rises out of its deathly silence. The person awakes.