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On Praising God

An important aspect of prayer is praising God.  But do we really know what it means to praise Him?

Consider these words from the Trappist monk Thomas Merton:

“To praise God!

Do we know what it means to praise?  To adore?  To give glory?

Praise is cheap today.  Everything is praised.  Soap, beer, toothpaste, clothing, mouthwash, movie stars, all the latest gadgets which are supposed to make life more comfortable – everything is constantly being “praised.”  Praise is now so overdone that everybody is sick of it, and since everything is “praised” with the official hollow enthusiasm of the radio announcer, it turns out in the end that nothing is praised.  Praise has become empty.  Nobody really wants to use it.

Are there any superlatives left for God?  They have all been wasted on food and quack medicines.  There is no word left to express our adoration of Him who alone is Holy, who alone is Lord.

So we go to Him to ask help and to get out of being punished, and to mumble that we need a better job, more money, more of the things that are praised by the advertisements.  And we wonder why our prayer is so often dead – gaining its only life, borrowing its only urgency from the fact that we need these things so badly.

But we do not really think we need God.  Least of all do we think we need to praise Him.

It is quite possible that our lack of interest in the Psalms conceals a secret lack of interest in God.  For if we have no real interest in praising Him, it shows that we have never realized who He is.  For when one becomes conscious of who God really is, and when one realizes that He who is Almighty, and infinitely Holy, has “done great things to us,” the only possible reaction is the cry of the half-articulate exultation that bursts from the depths of our being in amazement at the tremendous, inexplicable goodness of God to men.”

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  1. May 6, 2010 at 8:33 am

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