Spending Time in God’s Presence: Praise

Praying HandsWe are journeying into the presence of God.  Stop and reflect on that for a moment.  The God of the universe bids us to come into his presence.  This journey is following the path laid out for Old Testament worshipers in the tabernacle and the temple.  In Old Testament times only the high priest would enter into God’s presence in the temple.  And then he did so only once a year.

Previous articles recount the earlier steps of the journey:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!

— Psalm 100:4

God’s people would travel to Jerusalem, the location of the temple.  They would prepare to worship by passing through the gates of the temple and into the courtyard.  They arrived singing.  Entering through the gates, they gave thanks to God for all that he has done.  Now in the courtyard, they gave praise to God for who he is.

Notice the subtle distinction.  Thanksgiving is offered to God for his works.  Praise is offered to God for who he is.  That is, his character, attributes and qualities are deserving of our honor.  Praise is best when we recognize who God is.  This knowledge grips our hearts and our souls at the very innermost part of our being.  It swells within us until our lips utter the wonder of God.  This is praise.

What are his characteristics for which we should praise him?  How do we become people of praise?  Here are a couple of simple ideas.

1.  Consider the wonders of creation.

The Bible repeatedly describes the universe as declaring God’s glory.  Do you see God’s glory when you observe the beauty of the rising or the setting of the sun?  The power of the storm?  The vastness of the skies?  The intricacies of nature?

When you see the mountains, the seas, the skies, the animals, try to grasp the creative power of God.  He spoke all of this into existence.  Surely this is worthy of praise.

2.  Consider the Revelation of Scripture

When you read the Bible, are you simply trying to find a verse to motivate you for the day?  Better to see and understand the nature of God.  As you read, God will reveal himself.  You will read of God who is holy, loving, just, and on and on.

This is the reason for the Bible.  It is to reveal to us God.  The more you read the Bible, the more you reflect on God in nature, the more prepared you are to declare praise to the God of nature and the Bible.

3.  Consider the blessings in your life.

First the people gave thanks for what God had done.  They connected this to who God is and gave him praise.  We have become a people who easily declare the things for which they are thankful.  “I’m thankful for (whatever).”  We focus on the whatever.  We should rather make sure that we mean or say “I’m thankful to God for (whatever).”

Has God blessed you with any blessings?  Do not forget from where the blessings have come.  There is a connecting attribute of God to every blessing we receive.  For example, if God has blessed you with a wonderful spouse, we can thank God for this wife or husband.  We can praise God that he is a God of relationship.  We can praise his power and sovereignty in wedding two human hearts and lives together in marriage.

If you have difficulty with praise, I encourage you to begin listing God’s attributes when you marvel at creation, when you read the Bible, and when you reflect on the blessings in your life.

Singing and music often aid us in offering God praise.  Whether in your church service or thumbing through a hymnal or listening to your iPod or a CD, you can sing about God’s attributes and give him praise.

In our journey into God’s presence we are arriving with song, giving thanks and offering praise.  We will continue journeying to the holiest place when we next consider confession.  I hope you will continue on this journey with me.