By Wayne S. Walker
"Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You" (Psalm 67:3). Because God is our Creator who made the entire universe, He is worthy of all mankind’s praise. Also, because He is our Savior who sent His only-begotten Son to die for our sins that we might have redemption, those who are Christians especially should want to praise Him. "Then a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!’" (Revelation 19:5). What are some of the ways that we can praise Him?
We should praise Him in our prayers. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15). Too often in our prayers–I have heard it in public prayers and I assume that it may be true in private prayers as well–we give a cursory "Thank You for all the blessings, both physical and spiritual," and then we launch into the "Give us this, give us that, give us something else; please do this, do that, and do something else; help us with this, with that, and with something else," etc. Certainly, prayer is a time when we can, according to Philippians 4:6, let our requests be made known to God, but the verse also says, "with thanksgiving." When we pray, let us not forget to spend some time in thanksgiving and praise.
We should praise God in our songs. "Saying, ‘I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You’" (Hebrews 2:12). Yes, while we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we are "teaching and admonishing one another," as we read in Colossians 3:16, but it is also important to remember that we are, or at least ought to be, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. A steady diet of songs in worship which are about us, our wants, our desires, and our aspirations, even when expressed in spiritual terms, can take away from our singing praise to God. Far too many of our modern hymnbooks have shifted away from the older hymns that actually praise God to newer songs which are ironically called "praise and worship songs" but which are in truth more subjective than objective. "Praise the Lord, ye heavens adore Him."
We should praise God in our lives. "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:11). While God wants us to praise Him in prayer and song, it will do no good to express praise to Him in prayer and sing praise to Him in hymns while making no attempt to order our lives according to His word. That is a form of hypocrisy. Of course, we all make mistakes, even the most devout Christians, but there is a difference between one who is sincerely trying to live for the Lord and one who merely makes a pretense. The one who is sincerely trying to live for the Lord is demonstrating a faith that praises God in his deeds. "That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).