Summary: We are too self-centered in our worship. Psalms of praise helps us to focus on God.
Psalms of Praise
Delivered on January 22, 2006
The Rev. Dr. W. Maynard Pittendreigh
1 Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
2 I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-- the LORD, who remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free,
8 the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD.
I came across some interesting prayers last week – they were all prayers of children.
Here is one from Debbie – age 7: Dear God: Please send a new baby for Mommy. The baby you sent last week cries too much.
From Angela, age 8: Dear God, this is my prayer. Could you please give my brother some brains? So far he doesn’t have any.
From Lois, age 9: Dear God: Please help me in school. I need help in spelling, adding, subtracting, science, reading, history, geography and writing. I don’t need help in anything else.
Most of us delight in the prayers of children. They are not afraid to say what is on their mind; to God and to most people. They are very uninhibited when it comes to asking anything of God.
Have you noticed how often that most of our prayers are “asking” prayers? While it is true that we are encouraged to ask of God, there is more to prayer than just asking for things.
If you look at the Book of Psalms, many of these prayers and hymns are songs of praise.
The first words of the last psalm, Psalm 150, is “Praise the Lord.”
The first words of Psalm 149 are “Praise the Lord.”
The first words of Psalm 148 are “Praise the Lord.”
The first words of Psalm 147 are “Praise the Lord.”
The first words of Psalm 146 are “Praise the Lord.”
Well – you get the point.
We don’t spend enough time praising God – praising God is not like thanking God. When you thank God, it is a prayer of thanking God for the specific things he has done. Giving praise to God is more of an adoration for what makes God who He is.
Thanking God is somewhat self-centered – “Thank you, God, for what you did for ME.”
Praising God is more God-centered – “Praise you, God, for what you are.”
And praising God is something many of us forget to do.
Recently I read about a husband and wife who attended an outdoor performance by young violin students. After the concert, an instructor spoke briefly on how children as young as two, three and four years old are taught to play violin. The first thing the children learn, he said, is a proper stance. And the second thing the children learn--even before they pick up the violin--is how to take a bow. ‘If the children just play the violin and stop, people may forget to show their appreciation,’ the instructor said.
"‘But when the children bow, the audience invariably applauds. And applause is the best motivator we’ve found to make children feel good about performing and want to do it well.’"
It is sad, but true. People have to be reminded to show their appreciation.
When was the last time you thought about showing your appreciation to God for who He is?
A CALL TO PRAISE
When you look at the Praise Psalms in the Old Testament, everyone of them starts off with a Call to Praise. We have to be reminded to show our appreciation to God. All of these psalms start with the same words – “Praise the Lord.”
In fact, they all end with the same words – “Praise the Lord.”
If you are looking for a praise psalm in the Bible, they are easy to find. Just look for that opening and closing phrase.
This is something we have to be reminded to do, because praising God does not come naturally.
We have become so self-centered in our lives – and even in our worship.