Several years ago, I spent a 40-minute drive to my parents’ house instructing my American fiancé how to properly greet his Cuban soon-to-be father-in-law. I explained that my family kissed on the cheek, rather than just shaking hands. We forgo all the formality and fully embrace one another. Thankfully, Bruce had grown up in multicultural Miami, and he knew it was not considered off-putting to lean in and plant his lips on the cheek of an elderly Hispanic male. When my dad opened the door, he said, “Hola, Señor Lopez” with the correct accent, and I saw my “Papi” smile as he moved forward to welcome him into the family.
When you meet with a very important person, there are rules for entering a dignitary’s presence. For example, subjects of the Queen of England are to curtsey or bow and correctly address her as “Your Majesty.” Devout Catholics kiss the ring of the Pope as a sign of respect and refer to him as “Your Holiness.” In every court of law, plaintiffs and defendants begin their testimony before the judge by saying, “Your Honor.” How we enter opens the door for deeper engagement.
We can all agree that there is an appropriate protocol for prayer. We pay respect and honor to the King of Kings when we address our Heavenly Father with the language of praise. Praise shows our lives are submitted to God out of gratitude for Who He is and what He has done.
The psalmist understood the importance of paying homage to God in his prayers. Before David poured out his lament and cried out to God for help, he always began by acknowledging God’s greatness. Praise should precede our petition.
If we want to learn how to praise in a way that pleases God, Psalm 100 lays out a wonderful roadmap for us to follow:
What is praise? (Psalm 100:1–2)
Praise is showing reverence to God. Like the humble subjects of a king, we exalt our Lord with great fanfare by joyfully expressing His goodness and glory. We can sing, dance, or shout out our gratitude.
In prayer, we lift our hands, bow our heads, or kneel to show the thankful position of our hearts. Before we ask for our daily bread, we acknowledge God alone is worthy of our worship. We acknowledge our Holy God deserves our adoration.
Why should we praise? (Psalm 100:3, 5)
We belong to the Almighty God. He created everything in this universe, and all we have received comes from the Lord’s bountiful grace.
We may feel consumed by our problems like frail sheep wandering with no direction, but praise reminds us of the truth of our position: We’ve been welcomed into safe pasture by the Chief Shepherd who cares for our souls. Our Protector gathers us close, restores our strength, and leads us along the right path. We give thanks each day in prayer because His goodness and faithfulness will pursue us all the days of our lives.
How should we praise? (Psalm 100:4)
We continually offer up a sacrifice of praise when we acknowledge God’s name with our lips (Hebrews 13:15). Instead of gratifying our flesh, we express our genuine appreciation for God by proclaiming His goodness and glory. Praise shows our lament over our sin and our longing to please our God above all else.
As we bow our heads and lift our hearts to God, let’s resolve to begin our prayer time by blessing the Lord’s name and boasting about what He has accomplished. Our verbal expressions of thanksgiving outwardly display our inward commitment to yield all to our Deliverer. Every time we enter in our Heavenly Father’s presence with praise, we can trust that He delights to receive us.
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