What Is Praise?
For seven exciting years, I have written and taught about praise, yet I am beginning to see that so far I am barely into the kindergarten of praise myself. This is no statement of false humility. Each day I am more and more convinced that I know very little of all there is to learn about praising God. In fact, I am finding out that praising Him is one of the most important things I can learn while I am here on earth - because to praise Him, as He intends for us to praise, involves every aspect of my life.
Praise is meant to be the focal point of our relationship with God.
Over the years I have seen thousands of people approach the subject of praising God. For some, praise revolutionized their lives. For others, it meant nothing. I have observed the same contrast in my own life. Sometimes praise “works”. Sometimes my words of praise fall flat and empty.
What makes the difference?
First of all praise can never be a surface thing. It isn’t saying, “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord,” all day long. The secret is something that flows from the center of what is really you. It is something that brings an immediate response from the heart of God.
This something is “true praise.” What does it consist of? What conditions must be present in our lives for our praise to be true? What conditions in our lives hinder praise? If I live to be a hundred years old, I expect to be still learning more about the answers.
Beyond the mechanics of praise lies the heart of praise and the way actually to bring heaven into hell. More than anything else in this world, I want to understand more of how God wants me to praise Him. More than anything else, I want my heart to flow in a continuous stream of worship to God.
Suffering draws people together. If you suffer, and think others do not, you will be convinced they could not possibly understand you. If you read my books and think, “Merlin doesn’t really have to suffer because God always answers his prayers immediately,” you wouldn’t believe I could help you. But I do suffer, and God often permits me to wait a long while before He shows me the results of trusting Him. I was once charged with misappropriating church funds, and by someone I had loved and trusted. There was absolutely no basis for the charge and no evidence of even the slightest kind. A judge looked at the charge for a few minutes and responded with, “What is this doing here? There isn’t any evidence of even a mistake in judgment by this defendant.” But the vicious harm had been done. My reputation had been attacked, and this was all the accuser wanted to do. Many people would leap at the opportunity to declare, “I knew something was wrong all the time” or “Here is proof that praise pays - in dollars.” On and on the accusations could go. But the point is - I want to learn obedience even as He learned it. Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered (Heb. 5:8 KJV).
I pray that as I share with you some of the things I am learning, you too, will want to stretch and grow and open your heart to the flow of praise that glorifies God and demonstrates His love and power.