Continual Praise

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4, NLT*

The psalms we most often hear in church, and many of our Christian hymns and worship songs, ring with praise and gratitude to God. It’s a big part of how we respond to Him, and rightly so.

That’s how I usually interpret verses like the one above, but this time it reminded me of something else as well. When the Israelites went to the Temple, they brought sacrifices: animals, birds, grain, oil, wine.

They were giving back to God through a variety of offerings. We bring our financial gifts and sometimes ministry gifts. We bring our hearts. But our thanksgiving to God, our praise of His character and His deeds, are acceptable sacrifices as well.

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. (Hebrews 13:15, NLT)

A continual sacrifice… not just when we go to church.

Just like the animal sacrifices were to be pure and without blemish, we need to offer God our best praise, our best thanksgiving. That means spending time with Him in prayer, reading the Bible and keeping our eyes open to spot the good things He does in our lives.

It means offering the sacrifice when life is easy, and when life is hard. Not that we pretend everything’s rosy, but that we’re honest about the pain while continuing to declare God’s unchanging nature and His unfailing love.

David did this, in many of his psalms. It’s a “required” sacrifice, but not to stoke God’s ego. It’s required for our sakes—as an antidote to how quickly we let the blessings or trials block our sight of the One who loves us. Praise and thanksgiving ground us, restore our focus and our perspective.

Jennifer Slattery offers some excellent suggestions in her blog post, Cultivating a Thankful Heart. And if you haven’t yet read Ann Voskamp’s excellent book, One Thousand Gifts, it’s an excellent jump-start in the spiritual practice of gratitude to God.

God our Creator, Saviour and Sustainer, we could never thank You enough for all You’ve done, and there aren’t enough words to tell how great You are. Please move our hearts to praise and gratitude as part of our worship. Remind us this isn’t optional, and we thank You for the benefits we’ll receive in our spirits as we draw nearer to You in obedience.

Matt Redman‘s song, “Blessed Be Your Name,” is a great anthem for praise and worship in all circumstances. This version is sung by Robin Mark.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Continual Praise

  1. Jennifer Slattery

    Thanks for the mention, Janet. I’m still working on this. hahaha. But the more I focus on it, the easier and more natural it becomes. I’ve written Ps. 111:1-3 (along with a few other verses) on a sheet of paper and have begun to recite the passages 5 times a day, pausing as I do to pray the verses and God would help me live them out. As I do, I’ve sensed His presence so strongly. It’s amazing how praise ushers us into God’s presence and opens our hearts to Him. 🙂

    I love what you said here: Praise and thanksgiving ground us, restore our focus and our perspective.

    This is so very true. I have two chronic illnesses, and when I’m not feeling well, it’s easy to slip into poor me, complaining mode, which only makes me feel worse! But when I turn my focus off myself and put it on God, His unchanging nature, and all He’s done, my struggles grow smaller and my joy increases.

    Reply
    1. Janet Sketchley Post author

      Well said, Jennifer, and thanks for saying it! I feel like I need remedial lessons. Love your idea to take a few verses to recite and pray throughout the day. Fun homework assignment: discover which verses God might want me to pick!

      Reply
  2. raiseyourgaze

    Janet, thank you for sharing these rich insights on this oft-quoted verse — refreshing and gaze-raising for our worship in every aspect of life. ~~+~~

    Reply
    1. Janet Sketchley Post author

      Gaze-raising is what we need, Peter 🙂 Whenever I’m feeling down, I can trace it back to too much self-focus and not enough God-focus. Thanks!

      Reply

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