Two weeks ago, I was a part of a home fellowship at my sister’s place. We discussed the importance and power of praising God, especially in trials. The leader of the fellowship, her husband, asked whether we believe it is possible to praise amiss, just as it is possible to pray amiss. While everyone agreed that it is possible to pray amiss (seeing as it is written in the Bible that that is the reason many prayers are not answered (Jam 4:3)), there was a long disagreement on whether or not it is possible to praise amiss.
However, the majority seemed to lean towards it being possible to praise amiss. An example of an armed robber, choosing to praise God before he went on with his plans, was used to support this assertion. I think perhaps the person chose this example to shock us out of thinking you have to be perfect to praise God. Okay, well, the notion that you can praise amiss and the example used just didn’t sit well with me at all!
First of all, there is a difference between prayer and praise. They require different levels of intimacy and knowledge of God. One is largely focused on ourselves, our circumstances, needs and wants, while the other is purely focused on God. While I believe EVERYONE is welcome to call on God in prayer, I do not believe everyone can truly praise God…not for lack of trying.
The armed robber can pray all he wants for God to perfect his plans of robbery and grant him safety on his return home, and forgive him in advance for his crime and any murders he might commit… But he would be praying amiss! If he is successful, he cannot go to God and say thank You for helping me today, because what he did was not in GOD’S NAME! Jesus had no part of it, and will not accept his thanksgiving!
Likewise, he can sing songs, blow the trumpet, dance, scream and shout all he wants, in the name of praise and worship, believing that he is giving God due praise, but it would not be praise. Such is a mockery! It cannot even be defined as religion! It doesn’t show that he knows God, he fears God, he loves God or that he even has any respect for, let alone relationship with, God. He might as well be performing his ‘praise’ to the sun god as far as God is concerned! This is not praising amiss, because such cannot even be defined as praise!
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb 11:6).
Praise is not apart from FAITH! You cannot praise God without faith! And here, the definition of faith is not simply believing that God exists either, because even the devils believe that and shudder (Jam 2:19)! But they cannot open their mouths to praise God! Faith, as I have defined it elsewhere, requires that you TRUST AND OBEY! There are many who claim to be believers who do not truly believe in God! An armed robber, still practicing his trade, is a liar if he professes to have faith in God!
That day, I gave a definition of praise that was even new to me. I said, “praise is the ultimate manifestation of faith in God“. I said so because when we praise God, it can only be birthed from a realisation or revelation of WHO He is; His awesomeness, His loving kindness, His power…
Even in the midst of calamity, when we are aware of who God is, and that He is still God no matter what is happening in our lives…when we realise how amazing and wonderful He has been, we can TRUST Him in any circumstance, and we will just begin to ADORE Him. This is praise! It is the one activity we do that is not focused on us!
Praise isn’t singing songs. It isn’t dancing. It isn’t clapping and playing instruments. Praise isn’t us TRYING to lift God up, as if He needs us to! Praise is us moving in the knowledge of who God is, and doing what comes naturally as a result of being in AWE OF GOD! You can’t fake it! And so, you can NEVER praise amiss! If you are praising God, a praise that is borne from true knowledge and intimacy with God, you will always be right!
“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt 15:8).
Yes, people will try to fake praise. They will fake thanksgiving. They will fake giving. They will fake love. They can even fake worship… But just as LOVE has a definition, praise has a definition. And in the absence of sincere faith, your beautiful songs and dance routine can never be classified as praise!
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