We are made to praise the Lord. It is in our spiritual DNA to give adoration, praise, and honor to God. Praise is not just meant for the times when our circumstances are going well; it is also for the despondent times, the times of difficulty, and the situations which are downright hard. It is always open season on praising the Lord, no matter what is going on in and around us. Praise can help to re-orient our lives around God instead of remaining stuck in being dis-oriented. Whether in good times or bad, we are to praise the Lord.
Everything and everyone is to praise the Lord (Psalm 148). Because God has created and continues to impact every nook and cranny of his creation, the entire universe, every creature, and all humanity have the common task to praise the Lord. The outer reaches of the universe, everything out there which we cannot even see, are to praise the Lord. The earth and everything in it is to praise the Lord. The forces of nature are to praise the Lord. The landscape, the flora and fauna, animals and humans are, together with all creation, to praise the Lord. Young people, old people, men and women no matter who they are or where they come from are to praise the Lord. The proper purpose of everything and everyone that exists is to give adoration and praise to God.
Praise to the Lord is the recognition that God deserves praise from everyone, and the way to do that is to bow, yield, and submit to him. “Praise the Lord” is the Hebrew “hallelujah.” Hallelujah literally means “to raise the hands.” Raising the hands is not just for Pentecostals! It is a symbol of submission and joy. To have open hands lifted toward heaven is to convey to God that we will obey him and live for him in everything. Praising the Lord, lifting the hands, is not only to occur in church; praising the Lord is to happen everywhere. We are to lift our arms in reverent submission at our workplaces when we land a client or have a good day, as well as when we are overwhelmed and cranky people demean us. It is always open season on praising the Lord, and it is not limited to a certain set of good circumstances.
We are to raise our hands and praise the Lord when our neighbors care about us and look out for us, as well as when they make noise and irritate us with their less than kept up yards and houses. Yielding to God’s purposes for our lives is not dependent upon whether we have good neighbors or not. We are to praise the Lord and raise our hands when our marriages are life-giving and thriving, as well as when our relationship with our spouse is dry, dull, and going nowhere. It is always open season on praising the Lord and reflecting his image through love. We are to praise the Lord over our kids, not only when they do what is right but we are to raise our hands with hallelujah when they are complete stinkers and drive us nuts. We are to use our hands to praise and enact obedience, not refuse to praise and use them for violence through finger pointing, fist shaking, and even hitting.
In adversity we praise the Lord because it gives us a chance to put our faith into action. In times when someone is being insensitive and callous, it provides the opportunity to praise the Lord and love them because God loves us. It is very difficult to see God with your head down and your shoulders slumped; raise your hands, lift up your head and praise the Lord!
At all times, and in all places, in every circumstance and with each situation we are to raise our hands in hallelujah to Jesus for saving us from our misguided ways and bringing us back into fellowship with God. Sometimes we go through experiences that leave us feeling alone, as if no one else has ever known such pain. At other times we encounter such sentiments of joy that we wonder if there are people who have ever known such elation. And then there are the typical, ordinary, mundane times of the daily grind, the living of each day almost on auto-pilot – going through the motions without much thought to what we are doing or where we are going.
No matter our current situation, every day and every situation is a summons to praise the Lord. God’s claim upon our lives ought to lead us toward raising the hands to him. The person who truly praises God is marked by three things: a deep humility, understanding that they are not God; expressive gratitude, recognizing God’s actions and living in patience; and, unity, a sense of common purpose with all humanity and all creation to praise the Lord.
There is to be a seamless transition from praising God in church settings to praising him in all other environments. Our adoration of God is to be consistent across the entire spectrum of our lives. By God’s grace our Sunday worship will train us to carry our adoration of Christ into daily praise. May it be so, to the glory of God.