[Juiblee Colomn]Unfolding Praise: 1. The Meaning of Praise in Christian Worship

Christian Worship


Praise is an essential component of Christian worship. As believers gather to express their adoration and gratitude to God, praise connects them with their Creator and strengthens their faith. In this column, we will explore the biblical understanding of praise, its importance in worship, examples from Scripture, and the use of praise in contemporary worship settings.

Definition of Praise

Praise can be defined as the expression of admiration or adoration towards God for who He is and what He has done. The Bible presents various Hebrew and Greek words that convey meanings such as praise, thanksgiving, and worship. For example, the Hebrew word halal means to boast or celebrate God’s greatness, the Hebrew word yadah means to confess or acknowledge God’s deeds, and the Greek word eucharisteo means to give thanks or express gratitude to God. These expressions involve both verbal declarations of God’s worthiness and non-verbal actions like clapping hands, raising arms, or dancing.

The Importance of Praise in Worship

Praise holds great importance in Christian worship for various reasons. First, it allows believers to express their genuine gratitude and adoration to God for His attributes and blessings. For example, Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Second, praise strengthens the faith of believers by reminding them of God’s goodness and faithfulness, leading to a deeper understanding of His character. For example, Psalm 103:2-5 says, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Finally, praise fosters a sense of communal unity, as believers join together in acknowledging God’s sovereignty. For example, Ephesians 5:19-20 says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Biblical Examples of Praise

Scripture provides numerous examples of praise from both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, the book of Psalms serves as the hymnbook of ancient Israel, capturing a rich collection of praises to God. The song of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15 illustrates how the people of Israel praised God after experiencing His deliverance from Egypt. They sang, “I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” (Exodus 15:1-2). This song reflects how God’s miraculous intervention in saving Israel from slavery and oppression in Egypt inspired them to celebrate His power and grace. In the New Testament, the Magnificat (Mary’s Song) in Luke 1:46-55 and other praises in the Gospels and the early Church demonstrate the continuation of the tradition of praising God for His works and character. Mary sang, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble” (Luke 1:46-47; 51-52). This song reveals how Mary’s praise was a prophetic declaration of God’s justice and mercy in fulfilling His promises to Israel and the world.

The Use of Praise in Contemporary Worship

Contemporary worship incorporates a wide range of praise forms, from traditional hymns to modern worship songs. Praise and worship leaders play a crucial role in guiding the congregation in singing and participating in praising God. The impact of praise on the worshiping community can be profound, drawing people closer to God and to one another, deepening their faith and unity, and fostering spiritual growth. However, contemporary worship also faces some challenges and opportunities in incorporating praise forms. For instance, contemporary worship needs to balance between tradition and innovation, diversity and unity, personal expression and corporate participation, or cultural relevance and biblical fidelity. It also needs to consider the benefits and drawbacks of using different musical styles, instruments or technologies in praising God. For example, some musical styles may be more conducive to expressing certain emotions or themes, while others may be more accessible or appealing to different audiences or generations. Some instruments or technologies may enhance the quality or variety of praise, while others may distract or detract from the focus or simplicity of praise. These issues require careful discernment and evaluation from both the worship leaders and the worshipers, as they seek to praise God effectively in today’s world.


Understanding the meaning of praise in Christian worship is essential for a thriving spiritual life. Recognizing its biblical foundations and the value it brings to both individual believers and the wider faith community can inspire Christians to engage more fully in praising God during worship, contributing to a richer communal experience and a deeper intimacy with the Creator.

(This column is the first in a series of columns ‘Unfolding Praise: Exploring the Many Facets of Praise in Christian Worship’)

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