Praise and Thanksgiving
I am nearing the end of the month of publishing a daily praise, and it is Thanksgiving week, which works out nicely. But praise and thanksgiving are not the same thing. To praise God is to acknowledge who He is—His attributes, His character, and so on. Thanksgiving is specifically showing gratitude for His actions, in particular those that have been of benefit to me, directly or indirectly.
It is usually easier to first offer thanksgiving than praise. We can see more easily good things He’s done for us even before we really know Him. He often draws us to Himself through blessings, and we recognize and thank Him for that, and it begins to get our attention to He, Himself. As we move from the gift to the Giver, our eyes are opened to the very nature, glory and grandeur of the King, and we become in awe of Him, not just what He’s done for us. And we then begin to praise.
True heartfelt praise is not an abstraction. It is based on knowledge. In John 4:39-42, we see this principle at work in a related area. Jesus has talked with the Samaritan woman and she has told the whole town, then:
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’”
The townspeople knew something of Jesus from the woman, but now they knew directly. They had moved from the thanksgiving of His work in her life to the praise of acknowledging Him as Saviour.
An interesting challenge is that sometimes the line between the two gets pretty fuzzy. Because of His nature, the things He does flow out of that nature are to our benefit. As God is love and life, praiseworthy characteristics each, we derive direct benefit from them and so they are worthy of giving Him thanks also.
I find in my times of prayer that I slip between praise and thanksgiving back and forth, and this is not a bad thing. As we know Him better, we have more on which to praise Him, and we see better and more how He has worked in our lives, which increases our thanks, which drives us to seek to know Him better revealing more praiseworthy aspects.
One can almost think of one as your left foot and the other your right. Walking with God prayerfully is a constant interchange between praise and thanksgiving and they inspire each other, each moving the other forward. Left, right, left, right, praise, give thanks, praise, give thanks, on and on through an eternal dance, sometimes doing a shuffle step of praise, praise, thanks, or other variations as His Spirit and ours converse over the deep and shallow things.
Day 25 Praise: Praise to the Father for His lovingkindness, which reaches down to lift, succor and caress us, leading us to repentance, thanksgiving, and ultimately, praise.