Does God Need Praise?

 ssChristians claim that God is a perfect Being. Perfect beings lack for nothing so why, then, does God demand our praise? As one challenger put it, “why does this being that doesn’t need anything need praise? A perfect being shouldn’t want for anything, including the worship of its creation.”

The question can be restated in the form of an argument denying that the God of the Bible is perfect. It would go like this:

• A perfect being has no needs and no wants.
• The God of the Bible needs and wants praise and worship.
• Therefore, the God of the Bible is not perfect.

Of course, a non-perfect “God” is a contradiction. Either he doesn’t exist or the real God is not him. Either way, the Christian loses.

The value in restating the question lies in the clarification it brings to the challenger’s assumptions. The syllogism set forth is logical. If in fact the God of the Bible needs and wants praise and worship, he could not rightly be viewed as perfect. The problem with the challenge is not the implied logic; instead, the problem is that the assumption about God – that he has a need or a wish for praise – is false. The God of the Bible has no such need.

To see why, one must first spend a moment considering what “praise” and “worship” entail. To “praise” is to express approval or admiration. It derives from the verb “to prize,” or in other words, to highly value something. To “worship” derives from “worth” and means to revere or to adore. To “revere” means to regard with awe, an overwhelming feeling of fear or admiration produced by that which is grand, sublime or extremely powerful. These concepts all boil down to the same basic thought: praise and worship are a recognition and expression of awe in the presence of something great.

In considering praise and worship, two things are apparent:

1) To be meaningful, praise and worship must be freely given. Like love, praise or worship that is coerced by threat or by promise is of no value. One cannot be forced to admire or to feel awe.

2) Praise flows naturally from recognition of greatness, even if I refuse to convey praise to the person I am admiring. For example, I may dislike the Blue Angels, but contemplating the great skill required to control high performance aircraft travelling inches apart at near supersonic speeds would cause me to feel awe; the performance of the pilots is worthy of praise, whether I like them or not. Similarly, I may dislike overpaid baseball players yet still admire the ability required to hit a curving ball travelling toward the batter at 90 miles per hour.

Recognizing what praise and worship involve, it is apparent that no leader – certainly not a perfect one – would demand it. It simply does not work this way. Review the pages of the Bible, and you will see that God does not demand praise and worship. Where those concepts are discussed, they are the words and exhortations of other people talking about God. But God does expect our worship and praise, for this conforms to the natural order of things.

This point bears emphasis. God knows the way things really are. His self assessment of his infinite perfection is accurate. Such perfection is worthy of praise and awe and reverence. For God to think otherwise would not be humility, but error. Having no limitations, God rightly expects that we view him in the correct way, the only way that conforms to reality. Consequently, whatever attributes a person finds worthy of praise, God possesses these in infinite measure. Getting one’s mind around the immensity of a perfect God – of the utter overwhelming greatness that he possesses – one would necessarily be overcome with awe, fear and reverence. Whether we “like” Him or rebel against Him, our urge to praise and worship Him flow naturally from recognition of His greatness.

Now add to this the fact that God created us from nothing. He offers us the opportunity for union with Him, the chance to partake in His eternal loving relationship. When we contemplate the notion of what living eternally in the presence of perfection will be like, we will naturally, in recognition of the proper order of things, overflow with praise and worship, as well as gratitude and love. This is what the Bible is capturing when it speaks of the need – our need – to give praise and worship to God.

For those looking in from the outside, this will make little sense. They will mock our rituals as primitive or as a form of wishful thinking. For they do not yet understand. They have closed their minds to Godly things. Think of it this way: a person encounters a scuba diver for the first time. Watching him ascend a set number of feet and then stop for a period may seem quaint. The observer might imagine that the diver is saying prayers to the gods or partaking in some other primitive ritual. But the diver knows better. Understanding the workings of nature – that rising too quickly will result in that dangerous condition known as the bends – he periodically stops his ascent to comply with the natural order of things. It may seem like silly ritual to the uninformed, but to one with actual knowledge of the way things really are, it is indispensible.

So too with eternal matters. While our prayers and beliefs and rituals may seem foolish distractions to the secular world, they are in fact a proper recognition of the “worth”ship of God. We bend our knees voluntarily to His sublime excellence, for it is the natural order of things. 

Posted by Al Serrato

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