On the second day of Christmas,
the Lord God said to me,
“Praise my name.”
Over and over, the Bible invites us to praise God, not because God needs it but because we need to offer it. One entire book of the Bible, Psalms, is praise for God and provides us many examples of how to praise God. During worship, I often sing praises to God in song. But praising God is not something that necessarily comes naturally to me.
I have found that when I put something in God’s hands and trust, I am more readily able to praise. When I was twenty-eight weeks pregnant with my son, I contracted a rare blood disease. Up until that point, I believed that if I did everything right, I would have a perfect baby. When I was in the hospital and my lung capacity had dropped to five percent, I finally turned everything over to God. The next day the doctors discovered what was wrong. I had to take strong medicine to survive, and they didn’t know whether the medicine would affect our child. When my son was born, strong and healthy and unharmed and perfect, I cried with joy and gratitude and relief. It may have been the first time I completely trusted God. And I was able to offer praise with all my heart and soul.
Psalm 150 tells us to praise the Lord. Read the psalm aloud or turn to most any one of the psalms to find examples of how and why we should praise God. It’s not only the psalms that exhort us to praise God. Exodus 15:2 tells us that God is our salvation, and in 1 Chronicles 29:13-14, we are reminded that all things come from God. We are invited to praise God in 1 Peter 2:9, who has called us into the “marvelous light.”
- Why do we praise God?
- How is praise different than thanks or gratitude?
- Have you praised God recently? What for?
- In what different ways can we praise God?
Use Your Gifts: What are some of your gifts–maybe teaching, hospitality, organization, or wisdom? Think of what you do well. It can be one of the gifts or fruits of the spirit named in the Bible or something else. Then consider using that ability to praise God. Think about something you could do today or in the new year that you could offer in conscious praise of God. Maybe you’ll teach a Sunday School class, mentor a young person, straighten out the closets at your church, or bring food to a new neighbor. Praise God for opportunities to use your gifts!
Thank you: Think about the thank-you note you wrote yesterday. What are some ways you could put your gratitude into action before you go back to work or school? For instance, if you wrote a note to an aunt or a grandparent, perhaps you could follow up with a call or an invitation to lunch.
Color together: Spend some time coloring together. This can be a meditative, reflective time or an opportunity for discussion. One possible resource is an an all-ages coloring book called Pathways of Faith. It is a companion to The Path, the story of the Bible, excerpted from the New Revised Standard Version so that it is clear and easy to read. Free samples to try are here.
Which Christmas carols praise God? Sing along with this version of “O, Come All Ye Faithful.”
Sing along with the first and second verses of our “12 Days of Christmas” song.
Thank you for the opportunity to praise you. Thank you for showing us reasons why and ways to praise you. Thank you for helping us understand that our works can be a way to praise you too. Guide us each day in how best to give you thanks and praise you in all of our words and all of our deeds. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Many passages in the New Testament remind us that one of the ways we praise God is with the work we do in the world. Our work shows others our love for God and God’s love for each person. Read these passages to see how works, faith, praise, and salvation are knit together in the person and ministry of Jesus.
What way to praise God comes most naturally to you?