I want to thank C.S. Lewis for writing part of this post for me! Reading his thoughts on praise, as shared in Sharon Hodde Miller’s book Free of Me, caused me to think a little differently about how I praise God.
I’m sharing a passage from the book here. I tried to leave out a few sentences to make it shorter. However, I think we need this whole section to get the gist of what he’s saying.
“In his book Reflections on the Psalms, C. S. Lewis wrestles with the entire purpose of praise. He admits he stumbled over the notion of a God who clamors for praise ‘like a vain woman wanting compliments.’ In a moment of clarity – and comedy – Lewis realized that ‘even if such an absurd Deity could be conceived, He would hardly come to us, the lowest of rational creatures, to gratify His appetite. I don’t want my dog to bark approval of my books.’
Lewis continued to explore the nature and purpose of praise which led him to this epiphany: ‘I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, college, countries, historical personages, children, flowers…The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.’
Lewis then concludes:
‘I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment. It is its appointed consummation.'”
Wow. So if we sincerely love God, then our praise of Him, for Him, and to Him should flow out naturally. As we interact with Him through prayer and Bible study, as we see His faithfulness demonstrated in our lives, we will praise Him. And while praise may start inside of us, it will also come out of us.
It’s like when I’ve eaten at a really good restaurant. I will tell my family about it, and likely a few friends. And you can bet that if someone I know asks me for a recommendation for where to eat, I’ll excitedly share where I had that delicious meal.
We do that with a great recipe, an exciting new product we find, or when we receive excellent service at a business. We let others know when we’ve found something that excites us.
Now do you have a mindset that defaults to praise? I can’t say that I always do. That likely has to be cultivated by the Holy Spirit. On my own, I tend to default to griping or complaining.
But there are little ways we can move in the right direction. Put on a song that causes you to praise. In fact, make a play list of songs that put you in that frame of mind.
Memorize and meditate on a Bible verse of praise. You can visit my post 10 Bible Passages of Praise for Worshiping God if you want help getting started.
Take five minutes before bedtime and write down three things you’re thankful for from the day. Is there a better way to go to sleep than by praising God?
Enjoying God will ultimately lead to praising Him. It’s up to us to invest time getting to know Him and appreciating His character and His providence in our lives. “Praise the Lord” shouldn’t be a trite phrase we say, but a real, heartfelt lifting up of gratefulness to God for Who He is and what He’s done.