The Priority of Praise

Part 1 of a 3-Part Thanksgiving Series

Have you ever looked out the window of an airplane just before it pierces the clouds and noticed how much of the terrain you could see from that one vantage point? You suddenly begin to realize just how enormous this earth of ours really is.

Imagine with me now that we’re “flying over” and looking down at praise. As we take a broad view of praise, we’ll begin to notice two things that show just how important to the Lord praise really is. First, we’ll realize that praise, like land and water seen from an airplane, stretches as far as the mind can perceive in all directions. It is infinitely vast.

Praise Is Prevalent

As we scan the “plains of praise,” we see many landmarks that give us a clear picture of how far-reaching praise to God is:

God’s people have always praised him. I’ve been a praise leader for a long time. In fact, I was leading worship “when worship wasn’t cool.” It’s exciting now to see just how far praise has come. More and more churches and individual Christians are embracing greater freedom in worship. Praise is no longer just for “that denomination down the street.” With strong teaching on biblical worship and praise, this freedom will continue far beyond any worship fad.

In one form or another, praise to our wonderful God has always been in vogue among his followers. In Psalm 33, the opening words of the call to worship include “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.” Throughout Israel’s history, the people’s most shining moments— those most pleasing to God—were times they lifted God up in praise. In fact, David said of God, “You are the praise of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).

We’ve already seen in 2 Chronicles 20:18 that “all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord.” Some Levites even praised God “with loud voices” (verse 19). Whether they were kneeling quietly or being loud and joyful, they never considered what they were doing as strange or inappropriate. The fact that all of Judah bowed in worship shows that praise was not just for the “less educated” or “less cultured.” Rather, it was every believer’s most natural response to God’s power and grace.

Throughout God’s Word we find praise being lifted up to him. The word praise can be found well over 200 times in the Bible. When we include related words such as worship, sing, shout, and bow down, that number climbs to close to 500.

For all eternity God will be praised. Take a moment and read Jude 24-25. Stop now and imagine yourself in heaven saying or singing those words to God. How long do you think you will need to fully express your gratitude and adoration to him?

Now please turn in your Bible to Revelation 4. Read the entire chapter carefully. Take time to soak in this amazing scene.

This chapter describes part of a vision John, the author of Revelation, had of a glorious gathering in heaven that will take place at some point in the future. It’s interesting to note, however, that everything John described was in the past tense because he was telling about a heavenly vision he had already seen. Yet when he spoke of the praise taking place in heaven in verses 8 through 11, John suddenly spoke in the here and now. Notice the verbs that are used in these verses: saying, give, sits, worship, lives, lay, say.

What do all these words have in common? They are all in the present tense. I believe John’s abrupt change from the past tense to the present tense was intentional. John wanted to be clear that the praise he was witnessing was not a one-time event. Praise in heaven is ongoing, both in the present and in the never-ending future!

Throughout creation God will be praised. Read Revelation 5:11-14. All heavenly beings, including angels, living creatures, and elders will praise him. Every created being, including people, animals, fish, and all of nature will sing to him. Praise is obviously both pleasing to God and natural for his creation.

At this very moment in heaven, God is being praised. This is perhaps the most amazing of all. Please read Revelation 4:8 again. Did you notice that the four living creatures never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty”? You may recall that was precisely what they kept saying in Isaiah’s vision, too. So if they said those words in the past and they will be saying them in the future, it’s reasonable to conclude they must be saying them now! Praise to our holy God is so important that heaven itself never stops praising him. I know how easy it is to sometimes feel in the minority during worship services— especially when it seems you’re about the only one in the whole congregation who is participating. But be encouraged: There is a loud roar of praise to God in heaven at the exact moment you are praising him.

Praise Is Inevitable

OK, imagine we’re still sitting by that little window on the plane. So far, we’ve been impressed with how enormous and vast praise is. But now we’ve climbed to cruising altitude, and we discover something more.

Imagine yourself looking down from the airplane window below those scattered clouds. What’s down there? Remember, we’re taking a bird’s-eye view of praise. So it’s really praise you’re seeing below us.

So what’s down there? The same thing that’s been there since we took off— praise. Even if you look away, it’s fairly safe to predict that praise will be there the next time you look. You can count on it.

Praise is inevitable. While God desires praise from his people, he expects it from the rest of his creation. David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1, KJV). That means every day of every year of every century, the heavens are proclaiming his greatness and his worth. Do you remember Jesus’ words to the Pharisees when they told him to quiet his noisy disciples during the triumphal entry? “I tell you,” Jesus replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). I’m sure I speak for both of us when I say I don’t want any rocks to take my place! But if we don’t praise him, they will— because God is going to get the praise he deserves…period.

NOTE: This article is an excerpt from Pure Praise: A Heart-focused Bible Study on Worship by Dwayne Moore (Group, 2009), Week 2, Day 2. Used by permission.

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