The scene is the same in churches all over. Every sunday people go to churches big and small, head to meetings in living rooms and nursing homes, jails, and many other places to hear someone preach the Word of God. in these meetings, they sing, they testify, they sit reverently or shout out "AMEN!" or "Hallelujah" in agreement and support of what the preacher is saying. The singers sing, the choirs and bands play. Each has their own way of doing their church thing. one thing that is common in just about all of them is the use of the phrases "Praise the Lord", "Praise God", "Praise Jesus". The preacher says something like "lets all praise the Lord.", and everybody gets out of their seats, raise their hands and begin to say, sing chant, and shout things like: "praise you Lord", "praise Jesus", "praise God", and so on. I have to admit that I always thought that this was somehow just a little silly and a whole lot robotic, but never said anything about it because it's something you're supposed to do. You don't question things like that without coming off sounding like an unbeliever who is trying to ridicule God's people and their ways. So I kept it to myself and just tried to go along with the program, telling myself that this was just the devil trying to put doubts and faithlessness in my mind. But no matter how hard I tried not to think about it, the question kept coming back to me "Why do we stand here repeating 'Praise God' like this?". recently, I decided to do what I should have done years ago...get out my bible and study what God says about the subject.
The first thing I did was get out websters unabridged dictionary and look up the word praise. I found two sets of definitions, as a verb, and as a noun:
1. to value, to appraise; also to esteem; value; prize
2. to express approbation of; to laud; extol; commend; applaud
3. to win or gain praise or commendation
4. to glorify by homage and ascription of perfection. especially in song. to laud; magnify.
synonyms: eulogize, celebrate, glorify, magnify
1. the act of praise, or state of being praised; commendation for worth or excellence; approval expressed; honor rendered because of excellence or worth.
2. the act of glorifying God or extolling God; worship, worship by song.
3. the object, subject, ground, or reason of praise.
synonyms: honor, applause, acclaim, commendation
The next thing I did was get out God's Word for windows and Quickverse 4.0 and found out that the word 'praise' appears in the king james version 248 times in 216 verses. This alone tells me that it's important because generaly the more something is mentioned in the bible, the more important it is.
Then I got out the strongs concordance and look up the hebrew and greek words that were translated praise.
to raise the hands. to revere or
worship with extended hands.
a celebration of thanksgiving
to kneel, by implication to bless
God as an act of adoration.
to be clear, to shine, to rave,
to make a show... boast.
|1chron 16:35||8416||teh-hil-law||laudation, a hymn - praise|
to touch the strings or parts
of a musical instrument,
to play upon it, to make music,
accompanied by the voice,
to celebrate in song and music:
give praise, sing forth praises, psalms
a story, used in the
sense of 1868
to praise God
a commendable thing
to hymn, to sing
a religious ode,
by implication to
celebrate God in
praising (the act),
a thank offering
In digesting all this, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that an awful lot of us have somehow missed the point...
For example, if my wife were to go out of her way to make something for dinner that I really liked, and took the time and trouble to make it just perfect, and I absolutely loved what she made how would I praise her for that? Would I stand there saying "Praise Lura, Praise Lura"? or when telling my friends about it would I start saying "praise Lura, Praised be Lura's cooking"? Of course not!! She and my friends to whom I did this would likely think I was a little off. At best, she would understand my intent, and wonder "Why doesn't he just tell me how much he likes it?" and my friends would understand much better if i were to tell them what she did for me, and how great it was and how much I love her for doing that for me when she didn't have to.
Likewise, when I see people saying "Praise God" and "Praise Jesus" and the like, I can just picture God chuckling and shaking his head saying "I really appreciate their intent, their hearts are in the right place, but they just don't understand what praise means."
Telling someone about something that God has done for you, Bragging about how perfectly God has met your needs, Telling God how much you love him, Thanking him for what he's done for you, ETC
Things like this and more is what praising God is all about, in song and in stories, testimony, witnessing, and thanksgiving. After all, Christians are not just about being in our own little corner off by ourselves. We are about bringing as many people into the Kingdom as possible. We are about telling people that God loves them, and wants nothing less than the best for them by showing them what He has done for us. The best praise is that which helps someone come to the cross and give themselves to Jesus. Standing in church repeating "Praise God" may express to God how we feel, but it doesn't do much for the unsaved. But telling them of the great and mighty things He has done for us is another matter entirely... it can lead souls to salvation. and it TRULY magifies God and gives him glory.
Take a few minutes to talk to God about it, you'll be glad you did.