The Trinbagonian that I am automatically translates ‘praise’ in the context of my faith to mean a celebration maybe with music, dancing and a good lime. In my family, those unplanned limes are usually the best and without noticing, minutes and then hours click by as we enjoy each other's company. Maybe it’s the sunshine or just the way Caribbean people are outgoing, vibrant and expressive, but any reference or direction to praise is a direction for celebration in honour to God.
I believe that is a perfectly acceptable, though limited perspective of praise, since I am sure we would all have experienced those times when offering praise to God could be difficult because we’re just not in a ‘praising mood’. By that I mean, when we don’t feel as though there is much to celebrate or smile about. I’ve come to realise though that celebration isn’t the ignition for praise, but that when we praise, despite our mood or circumstance, celebration is bound to erupt.
"Commendation bestowed on a person for his personal virtues or worthy actions, on meritorious actions themselves, or on anything valuable; approbation expressed in words or song."
"To extol in words or song; to magnify; to glorify on account of perfections or excellent works." (AV1611)
“When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He has done for me, my soul cries out ‘Hallelujah!” Even though a person may only feel to praise when they are in a celebratory mood, it is needed most when we do not feel like it. Discipline in seeking to know God and His Word provides a deep understanding that God should always be commended for His virtues, which will then evoke pure and passionate praises from us.
"God should always be commended for His virtues"
If we only praise when we feel good or when something good has happened to us, then what we’re doing is expressing gratitude. Praise is the demonstration of our adoration for the character of the loving, faithful and unchanging God, whether in good or bad times.
Praising our Lord requires that we know the truth of who God is and belief that He will do as He says in His Word. It is impossible to praise God for a virtue that one doesn’t know exists.
As a child there were always certain members of the congregation who seemed to sing louder than everyone else, and of course we would snicker at what then appeared to be random boisterous outbursts. I wondered then whether it was just an act. Otherwise, could they really be that joyous week after week. I clearly did not understand the meaning of praise at the time, but more importantly the reasons for praise. Well I would have done well to know then that “ah come yuh ah come”, and I certainly did.
Remember the account in 1 Kings 13 when Elijah sent his servant to scope out the horizon to report on whether clouds had formed in the sky in anticipation of the rain that Elijah prayed for. Elijah knew that something was happening in the spiritual realm before it was manifested in the physical. Imagine if the servant boy knew what Elijah knew, the six times he went looking for the cloud before he saw it, he would have been praising as he went back and forth.
"Something was happening in the spiritual realm before it was manifested in the physical."
Praise is perpetual adoration to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
“Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come…” Revelation 4:8 NLT
The psalmist David poetically poured his praise on the Lord His God in every season of his life, whether it was for victory in a battle, forgiving his sins, being his help in the face of persecution or safety and deliverance while in exile. David’s praise never ceased towards the Lord. In Psalm 18:3 he said:
“I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.”
We must all learn to praise despite our circumstances because praise doesn’t belong to situations, they belong to God. Meditating on His nature, His pre-eminence and on all He has been and promises to be to you, should evoke bursts of passionate praises.
"Praise belongs to God"
Even if your praise looks like mumblings under your breath, songs watered with tears, or an exhilarating dance, let your praises pour out before God. One day you will realise (if you haven’t already) that praising has become your lifestyle, a pleasing offering to God who openly accepts it, as He pours His love upon you.
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