Here’s another excerpt from my book Prayer A to Z. (This book should be ready to purchase in just a few months.)
The evil one seems to be always working to force us off the path of praise and on to the broad road that leads to discouragement, depression, and destruction. But God is merciful and gracious and is willing to help us stay on that good path if we trust Him and follow His instructions. Here are…
Six Essentials for Praise
The following points are all Biblical principles, and so we can take them as instructions from the Lord. Failure to do these things will keep you from praise. But if you do them God will help you to stay on the path of praise.
1. Confess and forsake your sins regularly. One that has a heart full of unconfessed sin would not think of praising God, because he is consumed with his own pride and guilt. Even if such a person vainly attempted to praise Him, it would be impossible because sin always blocks the flow of fellowship with God. In such a case it would be merely a token ritual and performed only as a show of good works or a vain attempt to cover up the sin not dealt with.
When we confess and forsake our sins, however, God quickly comes to our aid—He cleanses our heart, delivers our soul from guilt, and restores joy to our spirit. He gives us a new song that we may joyfully sing of His righteousness.
2. Practice humility. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Those who are always looking out for only themselves, who are constantly occupying their time with buying things for themselves and entertaining themselves and always thinking of how they can better please and comfort themselves, these do not make praise their practice, nor are they aware of the glory of God, because they are too occupied with themselves. Their god is themselves.
But when we give ourselves to God and His work, when we are working to meet the needs of others, then God fills us with His love and peace and joy—and then, in our gratitude, we praise Him.
3. Practice fellowship. Man was not created to be isolated. God said from the beginning, “It is not good to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). God created all people as creatures of fellowship, with the need to share similar interests, desires, and purposes; and with the need to love and be loved. And since all people were created in His image we all have many things in common: we all look basically the same, and we all have the same basic needs and desires. Thus we all share a type of fellowship together.
But there is a different type of fellowship, a Christian fellowship. That fellowship is especially good, or intimate, because in that fellowship God has united His people with Him in His Spirit and in the Spirit of Christ. In this fellowship of unity in the Spirit we have so many wonderful things in common such as love, joy, peace, and hope—the hope of eternal life.
Now in both types, in the general type of fellowship of all humans and in Christian fellowship, God has come to us. He has come to all people by way of their bodies because we all were made in His image; and He has come to believers by way of their bodies and spirits because they not only have a body in His image but they have His very Spirit within them. He also comes to us by way of all other things He has created—the animals, the plants and trees, the water, and the heavens; for in all these things we see His handy work. And so we see that all humans have no excuse for not knowing about God. And because of that knowledge, when God comes to us through our fellowship with people and through our observance of His creation, we all have no excuse why we should not praise Him.
But when we are isolated from each other, and isolated from His creation (beyond what God intends for us), anxiety tends to creep in and we tend to forget about God and think more about ourselves—about all of our needs and problems and plans. And that is why we all need each other, to take us away from ourselves.
And so we must continue to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. And let us never fail to meet together in our Bible studies, our prayer groups, and in our times of worship (Heb. 10:24-25). For praise is especially good and pleasing to God when the saints meet together and offer up their praise to Him with one accord.
4. Study God. Since praise is the expression of honor to God for who He is and for what He has done, it makes sense that we should get to know Him; for we cannot praise Him intelligently unless we know more about Him and what He has done.
Those who cannot or will not praise Him do not really know Him. No doubt somewhere along the line they have rejected Him and have instead gotten wrapped up in the world and in sin and in themselves.
Let us make an honest effort to learn who He really is. In our Bible studies, in our fellowship groups, and in our prayer times the knowledge of God should be our highest goal in order that we might give Him His due praise.
5. Read, recite, and sing praise verses. God understands the nature of man and how we tend not to naturally give Him His due praise. For that reason He has given us His Word with hundreds of praise verses to read, recite, and sing. I think it is so fitting to read at least one verse of the Psalms each morning. Then during the day sing songs and choruses of praise to the Lord. If it is possible, while you work, listen to a Christian radio station where praise songs are sung. Take every opportunity to praise Him.
For those who are especially diligent, I challenge you to memorize a few verses of the Psalms and recite them during the day. If you do this, these Psalms will also be in your mind at night (Josh. 1:8).
6. Remember always to be thankful. Romans 1:18-32 teaches us that if we do not give God honor and if we are not thankful for all that He has done for us, pride and ungratefulness will lead us to spiritual darkness, corruption and depravity.
But if we humble ourselves as we realize that we are nothing without God, and if we are obedient to thank Him for what He has done for us personally, our gratitude will then build into a broader praise—we will find ourselves praising God for all things and for who He is and for what He has done for all people.
I think we will see that as we humbly make a habit of giving praise and thanks to God, He will cleanse our heart from all that is foolish and dishonoring and corrupt. And He will give us a pure heart and a wise and understanding mind. He will give us a heart of praise.
One of the best and wisest things you can do is to get in the habit of thanking God for all things. Make a list of all the things that are going on in your life and thank Him. Thank Him in the morning and several times during the day. And then, before you go to bed give Him a special gift of thanks. He deserves it, and you will be blest with His peace.