Some days it’s easy to thank and praise God. A prayer is answered just the way we wanted, an unexpected gift arrives, a loved one recovers from an illness. When God does something obvious for us, we respond in praise to Him.
But other times, praise is hard. The prayer is answered “No.” A loved one does not recover. Needs and hardships abound with no relief in sight.
Psalm 116:17 speaks of offering “the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” After speaking of the sacrifice Jesus made of His own blood so that we could be saved. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
Why would it be called a sacrifice to praise God?
Sacrifices cost something. They acknowledge the worthiness of the one sacrificed to. They encourage faith even as they express faith.
Why does God want our praise? Everyone appreciates a “thank you.” But God doesn’t need praise from us. He is totally self-sufficient. He asks for our praise because we need it. He lifts our chin upwards so our gaze rests on Him. When times are hard, looking to Him reminds us that He is sovereign, wise, powerful, loving, kind. When we praise Him, we acknowledge His greatness for our own hearts as well as others. We remind ourselves that all our answers and provisions come from Him. We don’t ignore the pain or heartache, but we acknowledge God in them.
As Nancy Guthrie shares in Hoping for Something Better: Refusing to Settle for Life as Usual:
When we choose to praise God for His goodness, despite His allowing what we would nor describe as good into our lives, that is a sacrifice of praise. When we praise Him for His sovereignty, even though we don’t understand the whys of His plans, that is a sacrifice of praise (p. 177).
In On Asking God Why, Elisabeth Elliot wrote of finding help to praise when she wasn’t feeling particularly thankful:
When I stumble out of bed in the morning, put on a robe, and go into my study, words do not spring spontaneously to my lips–other than words like, “Lord, here I am again to talk to you. It’s cold. I’m not feeling terribly spiritual….” Who can go on and on like that morning after morning, and who can bear to listen to it day after day?
I need help in order to worship God. Nothing helps me more than the Psalms. Here we find human cries–of praise, adoration, anguish, complaint, petition. There is an immediacy, an authenticity, about those cries. They speak for me to God–that is, they say what I often want to say, but for which I cannot find words.
Surely the Holy Spirit preserved those Psalms in order that we might have paradigms of prayer and of our individual dealings with God. It is immensely comforting to find that even David, the great king, wailed about his loneliness, his enemies, his pains, his sorrows, and his fears. But then he turned from them to God in paeans of praise.
He found expression for praise far beyond my poor powers, so I use his and am lifted out of myself, up into heights of adoration, even though I’m still the same ordinary woman alone in the same little room.
She goes on to tell how hymns also help her find words with which to praise:
By putting into words things on earth for which we thank him, we are training ourselves to be ever more aware of such things as we live our lives. It is easy otherwise to be oblivious of the thousand evidences of his care.
This year has been full of various hardships. Thanksgiving may not hold its usual luster. In fact, it might be hard to find something to thank God for. But I have found those times when I have to search for God’s blessings to be especially meaningful. He always leaves evidence of His care, and sometimes we miss them unless we’ve especially tuned our hearts to see them.
One hymn which helps me praise is “O God, Beyond All Praising” by Michael Perry. A few lines express the truths discussed here:
And whether our tomorrows
Be filled with good or ill,
We’II triumph through our sorrows
And rise to bless you still:
To marvel at your beauty
And glory in your ways,
And make a joyful duty
Our sacrifice of praise.
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beautiful post Barbara……it sure hits home.
Thank you, Wendi. 🙂
Love the resources you have quoted berr, and so identify with that notion of prayer and praise as “sacrifice. ” It’s an offering that only God sees, which pushes me to value that audience more than any other.
We tend to think of praise and thanksgiving as the overflow of something happy. And often it is. But it takes intention and faith when all doesn’t seem right in our world.
Amen! Thank you Barbara.
Thank you, Doris.
Beautiful hymn! Thank you for including that. I also appreciate the honesty of so many of the Psalms – the grief and anger they express is real, and yet always the refrain that God is good and “I will yet praise him”. Good reminder in these days.
Yes–they’re such great exercises in speaking truth to ourselves in whatever circumstances.
Oh how I love Elisabeth Elliot. Perhaps the sacrifice of praise means that we give up our own wishes and desires and pray instead for the peace of God to descend upon whomever we are praying for. Letting go and acknowledging that God loves and cares and understands more than we ever can. I think of Marion who hid in the reeds and sacrificed her baby brother. Imagine how she must have praised God for sending pharaoh’s daughter. And God delivered.
I think that’s a lot of it–yielding our plans and wishes to His.
This year may definitely challange us to the sacrifice of praise. I love David’s example of always ending his laments to God with a stanza or two of praise. I know he probably wasn’t feeling particularly full of praise, but he praised anyway. God doesn’t need it…we do! Beautiful!
I love how the psalmists remind themselves of God’s truth in difficult circumstances and eventually turn from their problems to Him.
Oh, yes…God asks for our praise not because HE needs it, but because WE do. The easy things are usually never the meaningful ones. things we have to work hard at – like finding reasons to be thankful for in 2020 – are usually the ones with the most meaning. Happy Thanksgiving, Barbara!
Thank you, Laurie. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
I love the idea of praise lifting our chins so we can see God. What a powerful thought.
Yes, I think there’s really something to the idea of praise sometimes being a sacrifice. I love E. Elliott’s thoughts, as usual. How comforting to know that God recognizes this concept and honors it!
“I have found those times when I have to search for God’s blessings to be especially meaningful. He always leaves evidence of His care, and sometimes we miss them unless we’ve especially tuned our hearts to see them.” Yes, oh so much yes. Thank you for this beautiful post and timely reminder.
Amen Barbara, so beautifully spoken, thank you so much for sharing. Blessings.
Yes. Praise changes us. And is necessary. And when we have no words of our own, we can use the words of others.
Very encouraging post, Barbara, speaking to my heart as I’m in a season of offering the sacrifice of praise. The hymn is especially beautiful and uplifting!
We must always praise and pray to God even when our prayers don’t seem to be answered. God knows best! Thanks so much for linking up with me at my party #FaithAndWorshipChristianWeekend 11, open until November 30 at 12:05 am. Shared on social media. I invite you to check out my other themed link parties. Any link you add to my parties can also be added to my Unlimited Monthly party for more views and shares!!
Barbara, what a beautiful explanation of what it means to offer a sacrifice of praise. I love what Nancy Guthrie says about it too. And amen to praying the Psalms … such a wonderful way to remind ourselves who God even as we are offering Him our praises and laments. I hope you have a good Thanksgiving, my friend. 🙂
The most authentic praise is sacrificial praise. When it makes no sense. When we know that God is faithful in the messy middle and we praise Him for what He can do. What He is able to do rather He does it or not.
Yes I love that we need to give Him thanks more than He needs our thanks. The shift in perspective when we lift our eyes up – thank you for a beautiful reminder!
I love this post so much. Our sacrifice of praise is what God desires, and what we need. Thanks for linking up with us at the #FaithAndWorshipChristianWeekend 11
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“I have found those times when I have to search for God’s blessings to be especially meaningful. He always leaves evidence of His care, and sometimes we miss them unless we’ve especially tuned our hearts to see them.” This is a great summary, Barbara.
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