Summary: Have we thought about the Who, When and Where of Praise?
This month we are going to look at the topic of Worship and pastor has asked me to start the topic off with the subject of Praise.
Praise is a commonly used word, and it simply means to say or write or express something good about others, or commend something good in others. In the corporate world, we trainers especially teach managers to praise more and criticize less. Praise in public but criticize in private etc. Many of you also would have heard about the sandwich principle, which basically teaches people to cover up any criticism by saying something nice before and after the criticism.
And of course all of us who are married know the significance of praise in marriage. It is one of the unbreakable commandments in marriage. “Thou shalt praise thy spouse no matter what”. If you don’t praise your wife enough, you might get broken instead. So immaterial of how the food tastes, you better praise the cooking of your spouse !!
And just for those of us who are from Good’s own country, there is a Mammooty film by the name Praise the Lord, released in 2014. I have personally not seen it and hence cannot comment on it, but some of you might have.
So, do we really need a sermon on Praise? As Christians, don’t we know praise? Praise and worship is one of the most commonly used terms in Churches, isn’t it? “Praise the Lord” has become a commonly used greeting in Churches and when Christians meet. Of course there are many Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists who might say that it is a Pentecostal habit. Fortunately at BBF we are an interdenominational congregation and hence it is OK to say Praise the Lord, and also OK, if you just say good morning without saying Praise the Lord!! But hey, it is not a bad thing to say isn’t it? There cannot be too much of Praise the Lord? There cannot be a wrong time to say Praise the Lord. Can there be?
There was this truly Pentecostal Pastor, who wanted to make sure that he used the “Praise the Lord” and “Amen” terms as much as possible. So he taught his horse to start running when he said “Praise the Lord” and to stop when he said “Amen”. After many trials, he finally succeeded, and he decided to go on a long ride in the forest. So he got on to the horse and proudly said Praise the Lord. The horse started walking and when the pastor said “Praise the Lord” every time, the horse increased his speed. The pastor was so excited that he kept saying “Praise the Lord” and before he knew, the horse was running at a very high speed. The pastor started to get worried and in the confusion forgot how to make the horse stop. He tried different words, but nothing worked. He knew that the horse was running towards a deep cliff and if he did not manage to stop the horse soon, both the horse and the pastor would go down the cliff to eternal life. But he just could not remember the word the make the horse stop. So as a good pastor, he prayed, and God gave him a revelation with the answer. He shouted “Amen” and the horse came to a screeching halt. The pastor looked over and saw that the horse stopped just inches before the cliff, one more step and they would have met with certain death. He heaved a huge sigh of relief and shouted joyfully “Praise the Lord”.
Let us examine the topic of Praise in the context of Worship. Worship is never complete without Praise. Praise is a very important and integral part of worship. Praise is probably one of the most extensively used word in the Bible. Instances of praising the Lord can be seen in almost all books of the bible. Psalms of course overflow with Praises. A quick search will show you that in the NIV version the word Praise is found more than 180 times in the book of Psalms alone.
Praise could mean many things to each of us. And that is shown in the various different ways that we express praise to our Lord. It could mean singing, it could mean clapping of hands, it could mean shouting, it could mean quietly thanking the Lord, it could mean dancing, it could mean being still.. the list can go on. Each of us express our praises in different ways. And the Lord loves each of those ways.
For a common understanding of Praise in the context of worship, let us turn to the last Psalm in the book of Psalms, i.e., Psalm 150. It is a sweet 6 verses long Psalm. Praise the Lord., Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. (NIV)