Why do we praise God? Do we desire to honor Him and make Him glad? Or do we feel that praise puts God under obligation to grant the earthly longings we bring to Him in prayer? Will God do whatever we ask simply because we praise Him?
God is not a heavenly vending machine into which we insert the coin of praise, press the right button, and get whatever we want. Nor is praise is a magical incantation that forces God to fulfill our wishes. Many of us would not consciously try to manipulate God. But when we praise Him in the midst of a trial, we can be tempted to secretly bargain with Him, feeling in some recess of our heart, "I'm praising You, Lord. Now You owe it to me to work out this situation the way I want."
TRUSTING REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS
True praise imposes no condition on God. It chooses to believe Him regardless of the situation and it's outcome. It accepts the circumstances He has permitted, without insisting that He change them. Such praise begins with the attitude that says, "Father, I'm going to keep trusting You even though everything is dark and confusing." As we continue to praise, we reach the place where we can say, " Father, thank You that You are working in me to beautify my character. Don't remove this problem until You've done all You want to do through it, in me and in others. Use it to prepare me for the furture You have in mind for me. Change me in any way You see fit."
One major purpose of trials is to strengthen our faith and transform our attitudes. Therefore choosing an attitude of trust and praise sometimes ends a trial with surprising speed. But even if it does not, we find ourselves enriched and strengthen to endure.
Daniel 3 tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who refused to bow to the golden image of king Nebuchadnezzar. Hoping to dissuade them of their folly, the king said in a rage, "What god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?" They replied, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are bot going to serve you.r gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Daniel 3:15, 17-18). Infuriated, the king had the three you men cast into the blazing furnace.
We all know the outcome of these three Hebrew children's faith. Their miraculaous deliverance has inspired faith down through the centuries.
DEMOSTRATING OUR TRUST
Through praise each of us can demostrate trust in God to work in the present as He has in past centuries. In the final chapters of Genesis we see how God brought far-reaching benefits through all the events that had happended to Joseph - the cruel betrayal by his brothers, the agonies of his soul, the slavery, the false accusations, the long years of imprisonment, and the forgetfulness of the butler he had befriended, that resulted with the extra years of confinement.
We read in Psalm 105 that God Himself had sent Joseph to Egypt, intending to bring good out of his trials (Psalm 105:17). He used them to prepare this youth to be prime minister of the greatest nation on earth. Through Joseph's trials, God arranged to have him in the right place atthe right time to save the lives of hundreds of thousands during a severe famine. Joseph's long years of suffering resulted in his own life being saved, as well as his entire family,and through it, the ancestors of Jesus.
Joseph showed his confidence in God's loving sovereignty in Genesis 50. When his brothers feared retribution, Joseph told them "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid" (Genesis 50:20-21). As we offer praise, we show that we believe that Joseph's God is alive and at work today, even in the bleakest circumstances.
Through praise we follow the example of Paul and Silas in their painful imprisonment at Philippi. There in the inner prison, with their feet fastened in stocks, they were praying and singing at midnight. Suddenly God miraculously released them thorugh an earthquake (Acts 16). Or we emulate Paul when he later rejoiced in the Lord though imprisoned for years. He was confident that his suffering was accomplishing God's purposes and therefore his own deepest desires.
GOD DOES NOT PROMISE TO MAKE OUR TROUBLES VANISH AND OUR WISHES COME TRUE IF WE PRAISE HIM. BUT PRAISE OFTEN RELEASES THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF CHRIST IN BOTH OUR CHARACTER AND OUR SITUATIONS.
A MAJOR STRESS REDUCER
Praise and thanksgiving do not insulate us from probelms and pressures. But as we couple them with honest prayer, they do serve as a major stress reducer. They help release us from the self-imposed stresses of our negative attitudes, opening our hearts to the soothing power of God's peace, which surpasses all understanding. And they do more than soothe. They also infuse us with vitality. God's Word says, "Strength and joy are in His place ... the joy of the Lord is your strength" (1 Chronicles 16:27, Nehemiah 8:10). Praise and thanksgiving usher us into God's presence, where we can partake of His joy and quietly absorb strength, strength for our every need - spiritual, emotional or physical.
Our UNCONDITIONAL PRAISE deepens our trust and joy in God. It increases our spiritual impact on people. These and other benefits come not as our due for praising the Lord but simply as added reasons to praise Him for His undeserved favor. They come not because we manipulate God to do what we want, but because we center our thoughts and expectations in Him.
Our motive in genuine praise is to bring joy and glory to God. we are here to do His will, not to obligate Him to do ours.
(An extract from Praise - A Door To God's Presence by Warren & Ruth Myers)