I found myself wondering during the Christmas season why we praise and worship God. This question arose because I have heard so, so many times at prayer meetings or during praise sessions the charge to praise/worship the Lord because of x, y and z He has done for us. Being the end of the year, there was the usual emphasis on having stayed alive and ‘made it’….for which God is worthy of our praise. This implies to me, then, that if God didn’t do x, y or z for me, He is not worthy to be praised. In fact, this conclusion is driven home by how so many have modified the original lyrics of Wale Adenuga’s song ‘Today o’. In the original song, the lyrics are:
Today o, I will lift up my voice in praise
for I know that you are always there for me
Almighty God, You are my all in all
No matter what I face, when troubles come my way,
I will praise You, Lord
Yet many churchgoers sing the fourth line as:
No matter what I face, when success comes my way,
I will praise You, Lord
So what they are saying is that it is only when things go well that God is worthy of praise; that He can’t be praised when things go wrong and life is tough. I feel really bad whenever I hear this modification to the song because the original words are such a true expression of worship – of love, commitment and trust to God regardless of our circumstances – while the modified version makes our praise and worship of God circumstance-motivated.
I would encourage everyone who sings the modified version to watch this video clip of Wale Adenuga explaining the heart and thought behind the lyrics of his song but back to my musing…
I thought of the worship going on in Heaven and asked myself the question: “Why do the elders and angels worship God?” They don’t have the needs we have here on Earth so He is not meeting their needs yet they consider Him worthy. The Collins dictionary says that “If a person or thing is worthy of something, they deserve it because they have the qualities or abilities required.” A synonym for ‘worthy’ is ‘deserving’. Let’s look at some of their declarations to glean why God is worthy of our praise/worship (I emboldened the key phrases).
And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
(Revelation 4:9-11 KJV)
He is worthy because He is the Creator of everything (seen and unseen) and because everything (including you and I) was created for Him….for His pleasure.
Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
(Revelation 15:4 NIV)
God is deserving of our praise because He alone is holy. His righteous acts refer to the judgment the world will face at the close of this age.
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:11-14 NIV)
Jesus is worthy of our praise because of what He did on the cross of Calvary. It was in fact His humility and submission to take on human form and to die the most shameful death on the cross for the salvation of mankind that gave Him a name that’s above every other name (see Philippians 2:5-11)
I will end with the psalmist’s words –
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
(Psalm 95:1-7 NIV)
God is worthy to be praised and worshipped because of Who He is. This psalm and many more speak of His greatness and majesty, so I highly recommend we go through it with eyes to see Who our God is rather than looking for prayers against enemies and the like. As we get a greater revelation of the awesomeness of this our God, our hearts will be moved to offer Him praise just because of who His is in general and who He is to us specifically.