Why are we commanded to praise the Lord? I do not believe God has such a poor self-image that he needs our praise so He feels good about Himself. He doesn’t need our encouragement.
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul. – Psalm 103:1-2, 20-22 (NIV)
I have heard it said that, “Our main purpose as Christians is to praise God.” In other words the very purpose of our creation was to worship and praise God. If they mean that God created us so He would have someone to praise Him – I just don’t believe that.
What is the role or purpose of praise? Why are we so often invited to praise the Lord?
It must have more to do with the benefits we receive by praising, rather than the benefits God expects to receive from our praise. Our praise does not benefit God; rather it benefits us!
If that is so, what are those benefits to us?
- Praise recognizes the blessings we receive from God.
- It declares God is worthy of our adoration.
- It expresses appreciation for His benefits.
- It remembers our history with God, how he has faithfully led us in the past.
C.S Lewis, in his book, Reflection on the Psalms, says,
“When I first began to draw near to belief in God and even for some time after it had been given to me, I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God demanded it. We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people [a]round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand.”
Then Lewis came to realize that praise simply expresses appreciation and enjoyment. Like any admirer of works of art or a lover who praises his loved one – we praise what we value. Expressing our appreciation enables us to fully appreciate an object. “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”
Furthermore, praise and worship is a relational experience. It builds our faith and trust in God. It renews that relationship. As we recount how God has cared for us in the past or how he has inundated us with His grace and mercy, we can only be grateful and trust Him more.
So yes, let us “Praise the Lord!” We are the ones who gain the blessing by our praise. It is our hearts that are drawn closer to Him. He’s there already.