“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; gives thanks to Him and praise His Name”.
I grew up in a traditional family that did not encourage verbal praises. The only time my siblings and I were praised as children was when we had good academic results for our studies in school. However, if our studies were not that good, then there were no other reasons for praises to be expressed by our parents. All the housework that we did and other forms of help in and out of the home did not deserve praises. As such, praising someone was a very rare exercise and due to the rarity, we actually felt very awkward giving or receiving praises.
I also found it very difficult to thank my parents by the giving of gifts as due to their wealth, whatever I could buy to give them, seemed very little and insignificant. I once saved very hard to buy my father a “Parker” pen but before I gave it to him, I noticed that he owned a few “Montblanc” pens.
After I became a Christian, I struggled with the many, many passages in Scripture that clearly state that we are to praise God. I was also taught that our prayer should include Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. I had no problems with Confession and Supplication but I had to learn to remember to be thankful and to express that thankfulness verbally to God instead of assuming that He obviously knew how thankful I was. After a while, thanking God for His answered prayers became easier and more natural. However, for many years, I struggled with “praising His Name”. It was not because I did not think that God was worthy of praise or adoration but for a long time, I kept feeling very awkward and unnatural praising Him verbally in my prayers. I could do it easily in my singing of praises but I felt it would mean more if I could articulate those words of praise from deep inside my heart when I talked to Him in prayers.
At the same time, there was also a doubt deep in my heart as I wondered why God needed my praises. I reasoned that surely as God, He knew He was great, He was almighty, He was good, merciful and so on. And I wondered to myself why God needed me to say it out. Due to this lingering doubt, it made praising God even more difficult. However, in spite of my doubts, I gave praises to God as I knew from the Bible that it pleased God.
Deep in my heart, I somehow feel that God appreciates our praises even more than our offerings. But in this world, we often believe that “talk is cheap” and being pragmatic, I wonder why God treasures our praises when offerings seem more tangible and measurable.
When I was young, I really appreciated people giving me presents as I had many things that I needed and wanted. However, as I grew older and older, I began to realize that I had already bought most of the things that I needed and whatever I didn’t buy were probably things that I didn’t need or want. As such, I have become less and less excited about receiving presents as either I already have them or I really don’t need them.
Instead, now, appreciative words from family, friends, colleagues and anyone for that matter, mean a lot to me. Each word of praise is a testimony to the fruits of my labour of love over the years and they bring much satisfaction to my soul. Those uttered words of praise and adoration reside deep in my soul and they feel like sweet honey in my mouth and they leave a very sweet aroma in my inner being for a long time.
I am now beginning to understand why God wants to hear our praises because He owns the whole world and whatever we have to give Him, even if we give Him our very lives, they actually belong to Him in the first place. I know for a fact that He appreciates whatever gifts I give to Him as long as they are from my heart. Praise God that lately, I begin to feel less and less awkward expressing my adoration and praises for God verbally, as I understand more and more that it means a lot to Him for all that He has done, not just for me but for all mankind. As I begin to have a lifestyle of adoring and praising God in words, I am then beginning to also be able to praise others genuinely from my heart.
Let us pray.
“Dear Heavenly Father, You alone are worthy of my praise and adoration. All creation is made by You and belong to You. I praise You for all that I am and have. You are the Giver of all things in my life and I know You give me only good gifts. I commit to express my thanksgiving and praises to You before You and before others, as I know this pleases You and glorifies You. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”