Does God need to be praised?

  • Question from MF, USA

    Why do we “praise” God? Does God need praise (flattery, compliments, the way most of us think of it)? Or am I misunderstanding this injunction? What’s the deal there?

    In terms of Christian theology, God is regarded as being self-sufficient, in that no other thing can alter or affect His existence, so He does not ‘need’ to be praised, in that sense.

    The Biblical message seems to be that praising God should be a response from the heart of a believer, not something done out of duty or to ‘bribe’ God. In one of the oracles of the prophet Amos, the religious feasts and sacrifices are described as hateful to God when the hearts of the people are not set on doing the right thing (Amos chapter 5, verses 21-24). In that part of the Bible, and in several other places, praising God without meaning it is considered worse than not recognising Him at all.

    Praising God for what He has done has been a Christian activity since New Testament times, continuing on from the praise (‘Hallel’), sung in Jewish worship. In the Bible, God is praised as creator, the rescuer of Israel, redeemer, saviour and because of His own intrinsic glory.

    It is not ‘flattery’, rather a natural expression of thankfulness and acknowledgement of the greatness of God. Ultimately, the reason to praise God is entirely subjective. People cannot be forced to do it; it has to be a genuine result of being aware of who God is and what He has done.

    Thanks for your question, MF.

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