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Praise and Worship

April 7, 2011

Is giving praise to God optional for the believer?

Before we go discussing this, let’s define a couple of terms. I am intentionally using the word praise instead of worship even though we often equate them. Most of the time that is alright, as they are almost interchangeable. A working definition I have is that worship is the attitude of the heart and soul. Praise is the outworking of it in a verbal and physical manner.

So, is praise optional?

In an ideal world, I believe the answer is no. When the right attitude is there, the right action will be there. A heart of worship breeds a song of praise! This is the natural outworking of a healthy relationship with the Father. This means praise is not optional. Praise is the overflow of the joy inside of us.

I love She Who Must Be Obeyed. And I love to kiss her. In fact, I have to kiss her. It is not that I am forced to kiss her, I cannot help it. It is an outward expression of the love I have in my heart for her. If I did not love her, I would not be compelled to kiss her. It is the overflow.

But just because praise is not optional does not mean I have to offer praise. I realize this sounds contradictory. Hang in there with me. We have the ability to suppress praise. In fact, Jesus said that if we do not offer praise, God would cause the rocks to. It is very cool that He has to power to do that. It is very uncool that we would cause Him to have to go there.

I am compelled to kiss my wife. I can choose not to follow through. I can let anger or resentment or my own stubbornness cause me to grow cold. I can let a busy schedule or fatigue cause me to relegate my love for her to a lower priority. It is not the right response, but is what often happens.

On the flip-side, praise is not an option. But what about those times when I don’t feel like offering praise. Sometimes I don’t feel like it. Sometimes I have a bad day, or a bad week. Sometimes we have truly difficult or painful experiences. What about then? Praise is not an option. Often, outward action leads to an inner attitude. The action of praise can lead to an attitude of worship. This situation should not be a lifestyle, but we all go through the desert sometimes. Praise anyway. Praise is not an option.

Sometimes I don’t feel romantic. I love my wife, but sometimes I am distracted to the point that I lose my focus on her. (Hypothetically) sometimes she does some things or says some things that I think are the cause of my lack of romantic feelings. But when I make the choice to kiss her anyway, it helps cause my attitude to change. I’ll leave it at that.

So I ask again, is praise optional?

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