Praise, an essential component of Christian worship, has been practiced since the early days of the Judeo-Christian faith. The act of exalting and acknowledging God’s greatness fosters a deeper sense of gratitude, joy, and community among believers. In this column, we will delve into the biblical foundations of praise, explore key scripture passages on praise and thanksgiving, and understand how these passages bear relevance for contemporary Christian worship.
II. Exploring Key Scripture Passages on Praise and Thanksgiving
A. Old Testament Foundations
The Psalms serve as an everlasting exemplar of praise and worship literature in ancient Israel. These sacred songs capture expressions of gratitude, adoration, and utter reliance on God across various situations and emotions. Furthermore, the lives of prominent biblical figures, such as Abraham, Moses, and David, demonstrate the centrality of praise to their faith.
Throughout Israel’s history, praise has been interwoven with its culture and religious experience. From the nation’s deliverance from Egyptian captivity to the construction of Solomon’s Temple, moments of praise punctuated the lives of God’s people, reflecting their love, trust, and admiration for Him.
B. New Testament Reinforcement of Praise and Thanksgiving
The New Testament carries forward the theme of praise and thanksgiving. Jesus’ teachings encourage thanksgiving, demonstrated in parables and miracles. Moreover, the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers often emphasize honoring God in both trials and triumphs, as shown in their letters to various churches.
The early Christian church practiced praise with vigor. The Book of Revelation, replete with visions of heavenly worship, depicts the ultimate culmination of praise, where all creation acknowledges the majesty of God, the Lamb, and the Spirit.
III. Understanding the Relevance of Praise Passages for Contemporary Christian Worship
A. Praise and Worship in Modern Evangelical Traditions
Although certain aspects of ancient Israelite worship might differ from contemporary practices, the core biblical principles of praise endure . Authentic worship—an expression of the heart, grounded in sound theology and reverent posture towards God— remains timeless and transcendent throughout generations.
B. The Role of Praise and Thanksgiving in the Life of the Church
Emphasizing praise within the Christian community provides several benefits. The collective act of praising God promotes unity, fosters a spirit of gratitude, imparts joy, and inculcates humility among believers. Moreover, gratitude has psychological and emotional benefits and positively impacts individuals’ well-being.
C. Examples and Testimonies of Praise and Thanksgiving
Praise and thanksgiving can be practiced in daily life in various ways. For instance,
- We can express gratitude to God through prayer. Prayer is a powerful way to communicate with God and thank Him for His blessings, guidance, and presence in our lives. The Bible exhorts us to “pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
- We can express gratitude to God through journaling. Journaling is a helpful way to reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives. We can write down what we are thankful for each day or week and review them periodically to remind ourselves of God’s grace.
- We can express gratitude to God through singing. Singing is a joyful way to praise God with our voices and hearts. We can sing along to worship songs or hymns that glorify God or compose our own songs that express our love for Him.
- We can express gratitude to God through serving others. Serving others is a practical way to show our gratitude to God by being His hands and feet in the world. We can serve others by volunteering at a local church or charity organization or by helping out a friend or neighbor in need.
Praise and thanksgiving have also impacted many lives throughout history and today. Here are some examples:
- Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights leader who fought for racial equality in America, was known for his faith and his praise for God. He once said: “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land” (King Jr., 1968).
- Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who helped Jews escape from Nazi persecution during World War II, was known for her gratitude even in the midst of suffering. She once said: “Every experience God gives us . . . is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see” (ten Boom, 1971).
- Nick Vujicic, an Australian motivational speaker who was born without arms and legs, is known for his joy and his thanksgiving for God. He once said: “I have the choice to be angry at God for what I don’t have, or be thankful for what I do have” (Vujicic, 2010).
Praise has an immutable presence in Christian worship and its roots run deep within the Bible. By examining the scriptural foundation of praise, believers can appreciate its enduring significance and learn to integrate praise and thanksgiving into their daily lives, both individually and corporately. As we remember and reflect upon the role of praise in our faith, may our worship grow ever more authentic, vibrant, and pleasing to God.
This column is the second in a series of columns ‘Unfolding Praise: Exploring the Many Facets of Praise in Christian Worship