Transitioning between worship (this week in BELIEVE) to prayer (next week) leads us to the final study this week on worship. When we study praise and thanksgiving, which are both a part of worship and a part of prayer, we should recall what we have studied this week about worship:
Worthy of our worship
Obeisance to God
Reason and rationale of worship
Sincerity of my spirit worship
Honesty and truth in worship
Intimacy in our worship
Praise and Thanksgiving
When I was first in ministry our senior pastor would lead our prayer time by asking, “Does anyone have any praise or thanksgiving tonight?” and made very little distinction between the two. Later on, when I took the youth to a conference, the speaker made a huge distinction between praise and thanksgiving. “Praise is for who God is. Thanksgiving is for what He has done.”
One of our youth’s parents became very upset about the conference leader’s teacher. “That’s not the way our pastor teaches,” she later complained to me. I thought at the time that she was needlessly upset, but in reality, praise and thanksgiving are very significant in worship.
Timothy Keller in his book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God explained that the two are very related and in some cases hard to separate, referring to Psalm 135 which related to praising the Lord and Psalm 136 which related to thanking the Lord, but both for interchangeable reasons. “Ultimately, however, thanksgiving is a subcategory of praise…Thanksgiving for a blessing automatically draws our mind toward the attributes and loving purposes of the God who has done the blessing. Praise for God’s love and goodness transforms effortlessly into thanksgiving…”
Praising God for who He is and thanking God for what He has done is an essential part of worship, for all of the reasons we have stated this week: He is worthy, we must bow before Him, it is reasonable, we must be sincere and honest and we must open our hearts intimately to Him. As we said worship and praise is not for God’s benefit, it is for our own. It displays our gratitude, our great need and His greatness.
If you do not want to praise and glorify God, it doesn’t hurt God, nor does it diminish His greatness. But it does speak volumes about you. Look at the ways the psalmist in Psalm 150 sought to praise God. The Christian singer Carman had a wonderful song about seven ways to praise, explaining seven different words used in Hebrew to praise God in different ways.
Twice in our reading from Exodus 15 the word praise is used, yet both being from a different words and different from Psalm 150. Psalm 100:4 uses thanks and praise four times in one single verse, again using totally different words each time from any of the other verses mentioned!
How about you. Can you praise and thank God in worship? In your everyday life? In everything you do?