What Does it Mean to Praise God?

Praise starts with a right understanding of God based on God’s own Word. Praise includes a growing reverence for who God is, which, in turn, imparts true wisdom to us. I praise the Lord with music and song. I praise the Lord, who is glorious!

David Sanford
Guitar with the word praise on it

When I meet a friend at Monti’s Café, I’ll often give a shout out to my favorite sandwich. I’ve done it dozens of times. Only two or three times has it influenced that particular friend’s own order.

Then again, when I meet with many, many friends at Spring Mountain Bible Church, I’ll sometimes raise my hands in worship to my Maker, Redeemer, and King. That often influences others to raise their hands as well. Then again, I don’t sing very loudly. That would negatively influence others, I’m afraid.

So, what does it mean to “praise” God according to the Bible? Raising hands and singing? Yes, and so much more!

What Praise Is Not

1. Praise is not a Sunday-only activity. The earliest Christians devoted themselves daily to the apostles’ teachings, fellowshipping together, taking the Lord’s Supper, and prayer (Acts 2:42).

2. Praise is not a church-only activity. Jesus Christ said He came to give us life abundantly in all of its fullness (John 10:10).

3. Praise is not always scheduled (by us, anyway). What happened after Jesus walked with two disciples to Emmaus, broke bread with them, and then disappeared? They talked about how their hearts warmed as they listened to Jesus teach each step along the way (Luke 24:13-35).

4. Praise is not always expressive. It often involves quietness and waiting (Psalm 37:7; Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 40:31; Lamentations 3:24; Zephaniah 3:17). 

5. My praise never goes to anyone or anything else, no matter how awe-inspiring they may appear. The wicked king Manasseh learned this the hardest way (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).

In addition, see Exodus 20:3-5, Leviticus 26:1, Jeremiah 25:6, 1 Corinthians 5:11, Acts 17:16, Romans 1:23, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Corinthians 10:14, Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5, 1 Peter 4:3, and Revelation 21:27.

What Praise Is

1. I exalt, glorify, honor, magnify, praise, revere, thank, and worship the Lord God alone (Genesis 4:26; Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 10:20; Deuteronomy 13:4; Joshua 24:14; 2 Kings 17:36; Isaiah 26:13; Matthew 4:10; Revelation 15:4).

2. Praise starts with a right understanding of God based on God’s own Word. The three best examples are Psalms 1, Psalm 19, and Psalm 119.

3. Praise includes a growing reverence for who God is, which, in turn, imparts true wisdom to us (Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 10:12-20; Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Psalm 112:1; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 15:33; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Philippians 2:12).

4. Praise sometimes includes an intense desire for the Lord. My two favorite examples are Psalms 42:1-4 and Psalm 63:1-8.

Biblical Examples to Follow

1. Like Miriam, I lead others in praise to God for His goodness (Exodus 15).

2. Like Deborah, I bring glory to God by leading others to face difficult battles (Judges 4-5).

3. Like Samuel, I allow God to use me for His glory no matter what my age (1 Samuel 3).

4. Like David, I humble myself before the Lord and confess my sins (Psalm 51).

5. Like Jehoshaphat, I face trials and danger with songs of praise for God's faithful love (2 Chronicles 20).

6. Like Peter, I worship Jesus Christ as Lord of my life (1 Peter 3:15).

7. Like Paul, I give my body to God as a living and holy sacrifice of worship (Romans 12:1-2).

8. Like Jude, I give glory to God, who is able to keep me from falling away until the day I go to be with Him (Jude 1:24-25).

Biblical Commands to Obey

1. I have trusted Jesus Christ and thank Him for giving me eternal life. What a wonderful gift! (Matthew 7:13-14; Mathew 19:29; John 3:16; John 5:24; John 11:25-26; John 17:3; Acts 11:18; Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:10; 1 John 4:9; 1 John 5:11-13).

2. I thank God for saving me now and for eternity (Exodus 15:2; 2 Samuel 22:4; 2 Kings 17:39; Psalm 9:14; Psalm 18:3; Psalm 30:1; Psalm 35:10; Psalm 42:5; Psalm 51:12; Psalm 116:13; Jeremiah 17:14; Zephaniah 3:17; Luke 1:68; Jude 24-25).

3. I find my joy in the Lord. How good and great He is! (Deuteronomy 12:7; 1 Samuel 2:1; Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 16:2; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 32:11; Psalm 37:4; Psalm 64:10; Psalm 73:25-26; Joel 2:23; Habakkuk 3:17-19; Isaiah 41:16; Isaiah 61:10; Philippians 4:4; James 1:17).

4. I bless the Lord, who is great and deserves my praise (1 Chronicles 16:36; Nehemiah 9:5; Job 1:21; Psalm 18:46; Psalm 89:52; Psalm 113:2; Psalm 119:12; Daniel 2:19-23; Matthew 21:9; Luke 1:68; Luke 24:53; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 5:12-13).

5. I exalt the Lord! (Exodus 15:2; 2 Samuel 22:47; Psalm 34:3; Psalm 57:5; Psalm 99:5-9; Psalm 107:31-32; Psalm 118:28; Isaiah 52:13).

6. I honor the Lord wholeheartedly and serve Him gladly (Joshua 24:14; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 31:19; Psalm 34:9; Psalm 63:4; Psalm 85:9; Psalm 86:11; Psalm 147:11; Proverbs 3:9; Proverbs 14:31; Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 29:13; Isaiah 58:13; 1 Corinthians 6:20).

7. I praise the Lord, who is glorious! (Exodus 15:11; 1 Chronicles 29:13; Nehemiah 9:5-6; Psalm 44:8; Psalm 138:5; Psalm 148:13; Isaiah 6:3; Ephesians 1:12-14; Hebrews 13:15).

8. I praise the Lord for His greatness (1 Chronicles 16:25; Nehemiah 9:5; Psalm 21:13; Psalm 48:1; Psalm 104:1; Matthew 6:9-10; Luke 11:2; Hebrews 13:15; Revelation 7:12; Revelation 11:17).

9. I praise the Lord for His righteousness and goodness (Genesis 24:27; 1 Chronicles 16:34; 2 Chronicles 5:13; Ezra 3:11; Psalm 71:16; Psalm 106:1; Isaiah 5:16; Isaiah 24:15-16; Isaiah 61:11; Isaiah 63:7; Revelation 15:4).

10. I praise the Lord with music and song (thought I’d never get to it, didn’t you?) (Exodus 15:1-2; 1 Chronicles 16:42; 1 Chronicles 23:5; 1 Chronicles 23:30; 1 Chronicles 25:3; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 2 Chronicles 20:21; 2 Chronicles 29:27-28).

In addition, see also Psalm 7:17, Psalm 21:13, Psalm 30:4-5, Psalm 47:6, Psalm 68:4, Psalm 81:1-3, Psalm 100:2-3, Psalm 135:3, Psalm 150, Isaiah 12:1, Isaiah 12:5, Isaiah 42:10-12, Jeremiah 20:13, Jeremiah 33:11, Jonah 2:9, Colossians 3:16, and James 5:13.

11. I actively encourage others to praise the Lord. In my case, by raising my hands and not singing too loudly! (1 Chronicles 16:7-8; 1 Chronicles 29:20; Nehemiah 9:5; Psalm 33:1; Psalm 103:22; Psalm 107:8; Matthew 5:16).

What Does This Mean?

That, my friends, is what praising God looks like in our lives. Let your praises ring!

Photo Credit:©iStock/Getty Images Plus/RoterPanther


headshot of David Sanford new 2020 David Sanford’s book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His next book is Life Map Devotional for Men due out concurrently with his wife Renee’s next book, Life Map Devotional for Women.


Originally published May 19, 2020.