Culture At Large

Praising God for being God

Andy Rau

Reformed Perspectives magazine has an article about the importance of praising God--not just praise for the things God does for us, but out of a simple acknowledgement of God's attributes:

This type of praise requires us to extend beyond the natural gratitude that accompanies God’s blessings. We need to praise God additionally for who he is in himself, and to appreciate the character of God as being excellent independently of his contribution to our personal interests.

People comprehended God’s essence by meditating upon the attributes that define him. We are most familiar with the divine attributes that benefit us most, such as love and mercy. God possesses many other qualities than benevolence, however, and these are due praise as well.

My first reaction upon reading the article was to say "Well, of course"--but upon reflection, I'm realizing how much of my prayer life focuses on things that concern me, directly or indirectly. Not every prayer request or praise is made for my benefit, but they tend to be requests and praises for things that are factors in my own life--health, weather, forgiveness, family matters, world issues that concern me. As the article notes, it is certainly good to praise God for the ways he acts in our lives--but how easy it is to unconsciously restrict our praise to the attributes that appeal to us or impact us in some way!

I also like the article's observation that the act of praising somebody who deserves it is a natural part of our relationship with that person. When we witness something praiseworthy, giving voice to that praise is a spiritually edifying experience--God has wired us to respond with praise to things that amaze and overwhelm us. If that joyful feeling is absent from our prayer lives, the article suggests spending time in quiet contemplation of God's attributes--and not just the ones that benefit us personally!

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Worship, Prayer