In General
photo: emmanuel carrizo, Creative Commons

photo: emmanuel carrizo, Creative Commons

What does your praise life look like? Yes, I said “praise life,” not prayer life, or any other kind of life.

What does your praise life look like?

If you’re like me, you don’t hear that question very much, but I’d argue we should. We discuss prayer, and fasting, and tithing, and sin, and many areas of our spiritual lives, but the one discipline we rarely talk about is praise.

But praise is a discipline, or at least it should be, because if we worship God with elaborate praise, His glory will fill our lives.

For many of us, worship isn’t the most fruitful part of our time in church. 

Worship is the part of church that has the hardest time fitting in with the constructs of our normal lives. We don’t often stand and sing together, so it’s tempting to phone it in, to sing, but not really. It’s tempting to wait until it’s over when you can learn something productive and then get out of there to watch football.

Have you ever caught yourself feeling this way? I’d bet you have.

But worship is bigger than standing and singing together. It’s a heart posture and one that changes everything.

The psalmist says that God inhabits the praises of His people. Can you imagine that? Picture God inhabiting our praise on Sunday mornings and what that might look like. The picture I have in my mind is what I’m sure John felt when he was trying to describe the Kingdom of Heaven in Revelation. All of the rubies and gems and glitter and gold in the world added together can’t make a picture beautiful enough to feel accurate.

God inhabits our praise. But how? 

God manifests His presence in us when we open our hearts and really praise Him. Another way to say it is this: when we are open to God, letting Him truly shine through us, is when we can see Him do His best work.

Have you ever noticed that? When you’ve opened yourself up to God as wide as you can, when it’s not about you and about what you can create or accomplish, God is able to show up the brightest in your life. Or at least that’s what I’ve found in mine.

So what does that have to do with praise?

When we’re praising God, we’re trusting God.

Our praise is a declaration of our trust and faith in Him. It’s the same as the praise we might get from a family member or a boss. When we do something well, we’re told, “great job, keep going,” and that’s what we’re telling God. We’re saying “yes and amen” to what He’s doing in our lives.

But the act of praise increases our faith as well.

Instead of receiving God’s blessings and moving onto the next thing, we’re stopping to appreciate and recognize what He’s done, which increases our faith and our trust in Him even more. We’re stopping to notice His faithfulness, which helps us remember it next time we’re wondering if He can be trusted.

Think for a moment about your most intimate relationships.

Think about the openness that comes when you trust someone. You aren’t closed off; you aren’t reserved; you aren’t protecting yourself or defensive just in case. You’re open; you’re willing; you’re ready to give and to receive freely, and this is what happens to us when we trust God.

When we trust God, we’re more open to receiving what He has for us and open to passing it along.

God is looking for those with open hearts—hearts that are not masked or veiled. He’s looking for people who aren’t trying to hide things from Him, but want all of Him in all parts of them, truly open and available to His purposes.

That’s what God wants from us.

He wants an open and honest heart of worship, and the more we praise Him, the more open and available our hearts become for this kind of glory to shine through.

Trust and faith and openness are the canvas on which God paints His best glory in our lives, and the more we praise, the more we remind ourselves that His name is worthy to be praised, and the more trust and faith and openness can grow.

Think back to worship at your church on Sundays. Sometimes we phone it in, tired and wondering when the football game will be on, but I want to challenge us to engage in all that worship has to offer. Let us dig into that time with God, to use that time of worship to genuinely praise Him. When we come to God with elaborate praise, we trust Him and open ourselves to Him more. And that’s when we’ll see His glory shine the brightest in our lives.