Do you know the difference between thanking God and praising God? When asked to praise God some people will begin to recite all the things they are grateful for. Essentially their focus is on all God has done for them. Therefore, the emphasis is on them, not on God. But true praise focuses on God, not on us.
It’s not that expressing thanks is bad. I have written several times on the importance of thanking. But the problem is when we stop with thanking, God misses out on the praise He desires and is so worthy of.
Scripture says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!” (Psalm 100:4 ESV).
Thankfulness is the entry point, like outer “gates.” But thankfulness should take us to the intimacy of praise, the inner “courts.”
It’s like the difference between appreciation and affirmation. Charles Swindoll writes about this very important distinction: “We appreciate what a person does, but we affirm who a person is. Appreciation comes and goes because it is usually related to something someone accomplishes. Affirmation goes deeper. It is directed to the person himself or herself. While encouragement would encompass both, the rarer of the two is affirmation.”
When I turned 60 recently, my wife, Carolyn, and my executive assistant, Patty Kepley, conspired to give me a present that is perhaps my favorite ever. It is a book called 60: Mark Williams turns 60! It is filled with words of affirmation from family, friends and coworkers along with photos of those special people.
What is so wonderful is that it focuses more on affirmation than appreciation.
• I am sure you would love to get the same kind of wonderful gift.
• I am sure that God would love to get the same kind of gift from you: praising prayer.
What happens when we are affirmed?
1. We are drawn to the affirming persons.
2. We want to bless the affirming persons.