The WOW Factor
Last season, TV viewers cast nearly 500 million votes in support of their favorite contestants on American Idol. It’s natural to express praise for that which we enjoy. We promote the music of our favorite artist; discuss the skill of an admired athlete; recommend the food of a good restaurant; or describe the beauty of a special vacation spot. Virtually all of us have listened to a smitten young man endlessly gush about the girl who has captured his heart.
Delight goes hand in hand with praise. When something or someone thrills us, we are compelled to express it. The enjoyment is not really complete until we do. The “Wow!” follows the pleasure like the rumble of thunder follows the lightening flash.
C.S. Lewis once said,
“Praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”
In other words, praise is to enjoyment what crossing the finish line is to running a race. The enjoyment leads to praise. The two are so closely linked that an absence of one generally indicates an absence of the other. This helps explain the reason behind the Bible’s command to praise God.Â In commanding us to praise him, God is – in essence – inviting us to enjoy him.
Increasing Your Praise
How often and how exuberantly do you praise God? The writer of Hebrews encouraged his friends: “…let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of his name” (Heb. 13:15, NLT).
This verse teaches us a lot about praise. First of all, the word “proclaim” indicates that praise is something that we do verbally. Other versions use the phrase, “the fruit of lips,” to translate the original Hebrew word.Â Praise cannot be contained in silence. It bubbles up from the heart and spills out through the lips. As David said, “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Ps. 34:1)
The second lesson we can learn from this verse is that praise ought to be continual. Praise extends far beyond what we do at church on Sundays. And it encompasses much more than singing a worship song. The Bible says that everyone should vocalize praise for God “continually.”Â Another thing the Bible urges us to do continually is to pray. The two are not unrelated. Praise is a huge part of prayer. When it comes right down to it, prayer is simply talking to God, and praise is simply expressing what we love about him.Â Praise increases our delight in him – which, in turn, increases our praise. That’s why we are told to praise him all the time.
Another important point to note about praise is that it involves “sacrifice.” Under the old covenantal system, the Jews had the option to bring a grain offering to the temple as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. The sacrificial system ended with the death and resurrection of Jesus.Â Yet we can still choose to honor God by giving him a different sort of sacrifice – the praise of our lips. The dictionary defines sacrifice as “the surrender of something desirable for the sake of something of a higher or more pressing claim.” It’s called a sacrifice because it involves giving something up.Â It costs. What would you need to sacrifice in order to praise God more? A little bit of sleep? Some TV watching time? Listening to the radio while you drive to work? Praise is a sacrifice because it costs us time and effort.
The final lesson contained in this verse has to do with the content of our praise. After voicing a few “Praise the Lords” and “Hallelujahs” many of us get stuck and don’t know what else to say. Praise is much richer and deeper than these churchy cliches. According to the verse, we praise by proclaiming “the glory of his name.” Did you know that there are hundreds of names of God recorded in the Bible?Â Each one reveals something special about his character and personality. Praise involves identifying and acknowledging these things. Just as an enamored lover expresses admiration for his beloved – telling her that he loves the way her eyes sparkle or the scent of her skin – so we, in prayers of praise, can speak of the glories of the Lord.Â There is much to praise, for his wonders are many. As the Psalmist said,
“Praise the Lord!… Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise him half enough?” (Ps. 106:1-2, NLT)
Praise His Name
There are hundreds of Names of God contained in Scripture.Â Kick-start your praise by thinking and praying through the ones listed below:
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Creator (Isa. 43:15)
Holy God (Isa. 57:15)
The Lord Strong and Mighty (Ps. 24:8)
Majestic One (Ex. 15:11)
Lord of Kings (Dan. 2:47)
Everlasting God (Isa. 40:28)
Great and Awesome God (Deut. 7:21)
Merciful & Gracious God (Ex. 34:6)
The Lord my Shepherd (Ps. 23:1-3)
The Lord my Refuge (Ps. 91:9-10)
God of all Comfort (Isa. 51:3)
Father of the Fatherless (Ps. 68:5)
Dwelling Place (Deut. 33:26-27)
Faithful God (Deut. 7:9)
God of my Praise (Ps. 109:1)
Do you know what the word “Hallelujah” means? It was a compound Hebrew word used by the Jewish people as a call to worship. The first part of the word, derived from “Hallal,” means “bright,” “to shine,” “to make clear,” and to “exclaim loudly.” The last part, “Yah” is the shortened form of Yahweh – the name of God. The two parts are joined by a syllable that invites participation – “let us.” Literally then, Hallelujah means: “Let’s loudly proclaim the praise of the Lord! Let’s make his excellencies clear! Let’s make his brightness shine!