WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT “PRAISE”?
Several years ago I was talking with a buddy, and somehow we got on the topic of heaven. I still remember his musings.
“I know we have to, like, praise God all day long and everything. But I wonder if after that I can do some cool stuff too, like turn into Spiderman and swing from buildings! I just can’t see myself singing to God for all that time…”
Outwardly, I laughed, and said something how it will probably be a bit more exciting than that. But inwardly, I echoed his sentiments. The fact that the Bible was exploding with references to “praising God” was always a little annoying to me. I never saw what the big deal was. I hardly liked any church music, so singing it forever sounded more like a punishment than a reward.
But a few years ago, I made a mental switch. I realized that I cared more about being cool than about worshiping God. And I figured that needed to change. I started singing in church and I immersed myself in the (sometimes scary) world of worship music. I offered to buy legit worship leaders a meal or coffee in exchange for wisdom. I followed a bunch of worship leaders on Twitter- the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I decided to go back to school and study “Christian Ministries.”
Within the first few months I was taking an Old Testament course. We read through selected Psalms each week, and this verse from Psalm 96 struck me, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Now, I’d heard that line before, I guess I just never took it literally. It didn’t say “sing an old song in a different key” or “revamp an old tune but change the groove and the tempo.” It said, straight up, “Sing a new song to the Lord.” So as someone who’d written a heck of a lot of new songs, but never once written a new song “to the Lord,” I was a bit convicted.
So I thought I’d try my hand at writing a “praise song.” I’d tried to record a few old hymns before. And my Christian faith had never been hidden in my lyrics or anything. I’d just never worked on any original music that people would consider “praise and worship.” I guess I was scared that if I drank the worship Kool-Aid, I’d turn into one of those super hokey 80’s worship infomercials. I’d have to start writing cheesy key-changes, clapping on the “ones” and “threes”, and rhyming “love” with “above” all the time. So with a wince and a little trepidation, I went to work on writing my first worship song.
Because I didn’t know exactly where to start, I figured Psalm 96 was as good a place as any. I worked on the song on and off for a couple years. And just this weekend, I finished mixing it. It’s called “The First Worship Song I Ever Wrote.” Just kidding.
Click the play button below or check this link to download the song.
It turns out that Jesus has a bit of a magnet-effect. The closer you get, the more attracted you are. The deeper you dig, the deeper you want to go. Our normal, dulled senses can’t comprehend Him. But as we engage in some of the biblical disciplines of worship, He begins to pull back the clouds and reveal His light to us. In the words of Richard Foster,
“A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all he can do is provide the right conditions for the growing of grain. He cultivates the ground, he plants the seed, he waters the plants, and then the natural forces of the earth take over and up comes the grain…This is the way it is with the Spiritual Disciplines – they are a way of sowing to the Spirit… By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done.”
And that is the reason we should praise Him. That is the reason the Bible is so full of appeals to “praise the Lord.” We may not be able to send the rain, but we can put ourselves in the right conditions for the seeds to grow. And so with everything within me, I would urge you:
Praise the Lord.
All glory and honor and praise to Him who takes away the sins of the world.