Praise is how we express to God our love for Him. It is how we honor, reverence, and exalt Him. In praise we acknowledge who He is. We exalt Him and thank Him for His attributes and ways. It is our service to God and for God.
Though God desires His people to praise Him, and though we are the ones who praise Him, praise originates from the Holy Spirit. He is the one who works in us and causes us to praise Him.
Praise often emerges from our prayerful meditation of the Word of God, or as we are singing a hymn or a chorus. Accordingly, as we meditate and sing, the Holy Spirit will cause us to see a wonderful truth about God, which brings joy to our soul and moves us in our soul and spirit to lift Him up and exalt Him.
Also, as we have seen earlier, when we confess our sins and God cleanses us and delivers us from guilt, He will move us to praise Him and to sing praises to Him (Ps. 51:14).
Likewise, when our prayers are answered and when God uses us in some great way He will move us to praise Him. We see this exemplified for us in both Hannah’s and Mary’s prayer of praise.
Listen to the first two verses of Hannah’s beautiful prayer (in 1 Samuel 2:1-2) as she rejoices and praises the Lord in response for answering her prayer for a child (whom she named Samuel).
“My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation. 2 “No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.
Mary’s prayer of praise is quite similar to Hannah’s. Listen to Mary’s prayer (in Luke 1:46-55) as she magnifies the Lord (in the presence of Elizabeth) for choosing her to be the mother of Jesus.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
In most prayers of praise, praise most often emerges for personal reasons—for the way God has loved us personally (some would see this more as thanksgiving instead of praise); but then, as we continue in our praise to Him, our praise becomes more universal. That is, we will praise Him for who He is and for His love to all people. When we examine Mary’s prayer we will see that she at first begins to praise God for choosing her and for doing great things for her (vv. 48-49). But then she goes on to praise Him for being merciful to all who reverence Him (v. 50); for scattering the proud and exalting the lowly (vv. 51-52); and for not forgetting His promises to Israel to be merciful (v. 54).