Question : “If God is Almighty, up there in heaven, and knows everything, and does not need our praise, why do we bother to praise Him?”
Answer: “Worthy art thou, Our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4-11)
Praise is a movement towards God. We open our arms to Him, we trust Him, we thank Him, we realise how great and wonderful He is and above all, how much we owe Him because of His great (and undeserved) love for us. Praise is an act of humility. Without humility we cannot engage into any kind of relationship with God. And relationship is what the story of mankind’s interaction with God is all about, right down to the final coming of Jesus. Mary, the mother of Jesus, herself in her Magnificat which she spoke (or maybe sang) to her cousin Elizabeth, enumerates several reasons to praise God.
Awareness of God’s Presence and work in our life, gratitude to Him, appreciation of His gentleman-like qualities, love of His miracles, delight and relief at being offered a chance to enter the gates of Heaven and meet Him face to face, are a few of these. The ones described below are only a few.
The first reason to praise God is that we have become aware of His action in our life, often He has saved us. So God has already acted, and the human being has just realised that it was God who helped or saved him or her. God is sufficient unto himself and does not need our praise, but He likes to see that we realise that He has worked on our behalf. God likes this because it makes us humble. God created mankind for a relationship with Him, and so, it helps our relationship with God when we acknowledge His greatness, His kindness, His love, His beauty, His power, His mercy and as many of God’s wonderful attributes as we can, because it helps us to love Him in our own way. God also likes us to acknowledge His work in a way that is tangible and memorable to us, to help us to remember the relationship and build on it. So He is pleased when He hears us expressing and voicing our gratitude, our joy and our praise to Him.
Another reason to praise God is that He deserves it. God is the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen - in the words of the Gloria: “For you alone are Holy, you alone are Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen”. Yet, the Most High is always attentive to us, “every hair on your head has been counted” (Luke 12:7); attentive to our prayer, “Ask and it will be given to you, search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9); attentive to our thoughts and our desires,“... because you like to take the seats of honour …” (Luke 11:43); and, having created mankind, and knowing each one from the womb of our mother, Psalm 139:13 “You created my inmost self, knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
God understands us better than we do ourselves. He watches over us from the moment of our conception so that we can grow in a relationship with Him, and if we would only turn to Him, His graces and blessings will fall on us, simply out of His delight in us. So His attentiveness to us deserves Praise, as does everything we recognise that God has done for us.
A third reason to give Praise to God is that it puts us in touch with Him in a way which we understand. It is a good beginning to prayer, because it acknowledges God’s goodness to oneself. “Come within his gates giving thanks, to His courts singing Praise” says the psalmist, (Psalm 100:4) and “come into his presence with songs of joy!” (Psalm 100:1) Praising God also helps to acknowledge our humble status before Him. Humility is something which is indispensable to connect us to God.
Perhaps because of this, a fourth good reason to give Praise to God is that it makes us happy. It makes us happy to be in touch with God and not just moaning about our situation, but thanking Him for all He has already done for us, because it reminds us of His interest in us in the past and gives us hope that He will keep rescuing and helping us in the future. It gives us a righter sense of who we are in the Universe and therefore of our dignity as children of God.
If Praise of God makes us happy, happiness and contentment are, in themselves, good reason to Praise God, as has been holy tradition in the Christian Church all over the world. Indeed the meaning of the word Eucharist is “Thanksgiving”, in ancient Greek. So it should be no surprise to find words of Praise to God everywhere in the Mass, as well as prayers of petition and thanksgiving. The Syriac father, Martyrius (a.k.a. Sahdona in Syriac), a monk of northern Iraq during the 6th Century, in his Book of Perfection says: “We should be discerning and aware of the grace that has been effected in us, giving thanks for it to the Maker, praising God for this great and ineffable gift to us.” (The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life translated by Sebastian Brock) .
God’s law, which Jesus summed up as two commandments: “Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37-39) is all about behaving lovingly towards God and towards other people. Psalm 119 says “Seven times a day I praise thee for thy righteous ordinances.” (verse 164), and “My lips will pour forth praise that thou dost teach me thy statutes. My tongue will sing of thy word, for all thy commandments are right.”(verse 171,172), and “Let me live, that I may praise thee, and let thine ordinances help me.” (verse 175).
The words of prophecy in the Bible are full of praise of God. Mostly, these are praising God for His goodness and kindness towards the people of God. But in some cases, it is God Himself saying that we shall praise Him. For instance, in Isaiah 60, The Lord talks about the end times, and the time when Jesus shall have come. Isaiah 60:16-18 “you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob”... and “I will make your overseers peace and your taskmasters righteousness. Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” In Isaiah 62:11 “so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”
HOZANA can offer you hundreds of prayer opportunities, where you can share prayers with other Christians, or perhaps find ways of communing with God in private. For instance, connect with God and people through the Beatitudes: The Beatitudes: A Vision of Gospel Joy; or take in the love of God and His desire for us through Mother Theresa: Listen to Jesus' thirst with Mother Teresa; or invite the Holy Spirit into your being: RUAH – Breathe through me Holy Spirit.