Several years ago, I led a Bible study group of young professionals. This was a sharp group of Vanderbilt grad students who kept me on my toes. It was a shock to all of us when one of them—a leader no less—announced he no longer believed in God and left the group. He also left his young wife because she wouldn’t go along with an “open marriage.”
A week or so after he walked away from Christianity, we met in a coffee shop. He talked; I listened. I heard nothing that sounded like a man who wanted to believe but struggled with doubt. I heard the “pat answers” he picked up somewhere about why there is no God. I heard a man who wanted to live a sinful lifestyle, but couldn’t so long as he believed in God. If he tossed out the window the notion of a righteous, moral God, it would be easy to also toss out any morals. So goodbye, God. Hello, self.
As we sat outside on that cool evening drinking coffee, one of his objections had to do with praise. “What kind of God is it who demands we praise Him? PRAISE ME OR ELSE!”
Frankly, I also don’t believe in a God who needs my praise. He’s God. He needs absolutely nothing from me. He does not demand my praise because He is insecure or lacking without it. He is the sovereign Creator of all there is, and He does not need anything from me—including my praise.
So why are there so many calls to praise God in Scripture? Because I need it. When I recognize His greatness and majesty, I am inwardly compelled to say something! I am drawn to worship Him.
On the one occasion when I visited the Grand Canyon, I was blown away. Breathless for a moment. A photograph can help you see that the Grand Canyon is incredible, but when you stand on the rim, you realize a photo does not do it justice. You’re drawn to make great declarations about it! You just don’t walk up and say, “Meh, that’s nice. Hey, whatdya wanna do for lunch?”
Far greater than standing at the Grand Canyon is an encounter with God. As I see God revealed in Scripture and as I experience His goodness in my own life, I am drawn to more than thank Him; I want to praise Him for who He is.
“Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
I praise God because I need it. When I am praising Him, my focus is where it ought to be. God truly is all-powerful, majestic, and glorious. He is perfect and righteous. As I see God for who He is, I also see myself in light of His greatness. I need that perspective.
The absolute best thing I can do every morning is to pray and praise Him. He deserves it because He is God. I begin my day focused on Him in praise, and that translates into a mindset that keeps Him in the forefront. It’s not about me—which is a good thing! When I make it about me, that’s when my headaches, mistakes, and disappointments kick in.
I need to praise God because I need that perspective. Furthermore, I gladly praise Him because, the more I get to know Him, the more I see just how praiseworthy God is.
“Lord, who is like you among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11).
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