Key Verses on Praising God:
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (Ps. 100:4-5)
Key Attributes of God Leading to Praise:
God is good, gracious, merciful, loving and kind, giving us what we don't deserve. He is mighty, doing great things in and through us. He is faithful, staying true to His promises.
Key Issues in Worship:
- It's about what God has done and will do, not what we do.
Jesus contrasted two worshipers in Luke 18:9-14 -- one who was self-righteous and the other who was humble. He made it clear in those verses that the worship God accepted was from the one who fell on God's mercy, realizing that in himself he could do no good.
- It all gets back to what God has done, even if He uses you to do His work.
Jesus reminded the seventy-two of this when they returned from a missionary trip and reported, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." Jesus acknowledged the spiritual victories but added, "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." They could only do what they did because of the work God had first done in their lives. (See Luke 10:17-20.)
Key Focus in Praising God:
What can we thank Him for?
Responding in praise is only fitting when you consider who He is and what He has done. "Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!" (Ps. 147:1)
Thanksgiving, however, is not merely a good thing to do. It is commanded that we praise God, even in suffering. "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:18).
Responding in praise to God is not a matter of feelings. It is based on the reality of who He is and what He has done and will do. Circumstances do not dictate praise. It is a heart response to a God who is good, to a God who is mighty, to a God who is faithful, and can therefore be trusted to have our best interest at heart regardless of appearance.
How is it that Job was able to say, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him?" In the early stage of his suffering he affirmed God's sovereign rights when he fell to the ground in worship saying, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job. 1:21).
Implications for the Worship Leader:
- In planning the worship service, consider and incorporate what it is that might generate a response of praise.
- Praising God should never become routine or mechanical.
- Guard against measuring success as a worship leader by how expressive people are.
Implications for the Individual Worshiper:
- The whole of your life should be a doxology of praise to the Lord, not just attending a weekly worship service or when you are around other believers.
- Watch that you do not fall into the subtle trap of using praise to lift your spirits, though that often is a byproduct of praise as it should be a response to a God who is worthy of praise simply because of who He is.
The Worship Ministry Manual briefly expounds on the above implications of this aspect of worship and also provides a four page guide to reflect on praise from a sampling of verses from the Psalms about praising God.