The antidote to cynicism, complaint, hopelessness, depression, and any negativity is praise.
- gives us hope,
- lifts us up and out of the pit of depression,
- takes our focus off problems,
- helps us see solutions,
- enables us to hear what God is telling us,
- makes us receptive to good – we see, feel, and experience all the blessings God gives us.
When we praise God, we find that we're "filled with the Holy Spirit," just like the disciples were on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4).
The Bible proves this numerous times. One example is Joseph's life. He was thrown into a pit by his brothers and sold into slavery. He was doing well as a servant in Potiphar's house until he landed in prison on false charges. Eventually, he found himself second in command to Pharaoh because he could interpret dreams. Joseph went from pit to palace because his thought was lifted up to God. During this long journey, he had enough reasons to complain and get discouraged. But Joseph maintained his faith in God, kept himself spiritually aware, never lost hope, and gave God the glory.
In fact, that's why God created us, as one of the prophets of Isaiah explains: "This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise" (Isa 43:21). God didn't create us to complain, worry, or make gods out of school, work, political opinions, technology, government, health care, etc. God formed us to praise Him.
Some people may have a hard time praising God if they think God punishes us, sends sickness, creates or ignores evil, allows something to hurt or destroy us, is vengeful, or is critical of us. But Jesus expunged such concepts and showed us that God is compassionate and merciful.
Indeed, "God is love" (1 John 4:8). John explains, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won't perish but will have eternal life" (John 3:16 CEB). What a remarkable gift! If filling our hearts with praise seems difficult, thanking God for sending Jesus to the world is a great starting place – especially at this time of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The psalmists understood the importance of praising God, and they showed us how to do it. Here are just a few ways:
Who is supposed to praise God?
- God's creation: "Praise him, all his angels…. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars … wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds" (Ps 148:2-4, 10 NIV).
- Everyone, worldwide: "Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people" (Ps 117:1, 2 KJV).
- Everything that lives: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (Ps 150:6 NIV).
Why do we praise God?
- God hears us and gives us strength: "Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song" (Ps 28:6-7 KJV).
- God turns sadness into joy: "You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy…. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!" (Ps 30:11,12 NLT).
- God fulfills all our needs: "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness" (Ps 107:8, 9 KJV).
- God heals us: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (Ps 147:3 NIV).
- God governs our nations: "For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations" (Ps 22:28 KJV). Also, "He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat" (Ps 147:14).
- God created us beautifully: "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14).
- God's love is enduring: "Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever" (Ps 106:1).
How are we supposed to praise God?
- Completely: "with [our] whole heart" (Ps 9:1).
- With music and dance: "Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute" (Ps 150:3, 4 NIV).
- Together: "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together" (Ps 34:3 KJV).
When are we supposed to praise God?
- At all times: "I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Ps 34:1 KJV).
- Even when we're afraid: "But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised" (Ps 56:3, 4 NLT).
- Throughout the day: "Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws" (Ps 119:164 NIV).
- Forever: "I will praise your forever, O God" (Ps 52:9 NLT).