Another important aspect of relational communication is praise. When looking at genres of prayer it may be difficult at first to discern between adoration and praise, but if you start with the relational understanding the difference is easier to see: while adoration is more characteristically a passive enjoyment of the other’s presence, praise is a more active declaration of the other’s good qualities. In terms of Dr. Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, adoration is more about quality time, and praise is more about words of affirmation.
In short, prayers of praise are primarily about glorifying God for who he is. The key here is that God’s very being is what draws us to worship and praise him. Similar to prayers of adoration, praise also focuses on particular qualities of God, such as his truth, wisdom, holiness, love, and so on. But praise is also more expressive. Words spoken out loud still needn’t hold the monopoly here, though. Some people are gifted such that they can praise God through singing or playing music, through painting or drawing, or through physical actions such as serving the poor and needy, or teaching others. Where adoration is more heart-focused, praise is more adaptable to head-focused and hand-focused believers. Of course, there is the challenge of discerning between exercising our gifts because it’s fun, and exercising our gifts for the purpose of praising God. This is mainly a matter of maturity and practice, however; something that we can learn over time.
What’s so important about praise? We believe that God is perfect. If good things are worthy of a certain level of recognition and enjoyment, how much more so God! There’s a level at which this is our bounden duty – Scripture tells us quite clearly that God is worthy of all worship; failure to praise him indicates a lack of appreciation for who he is, and is ultimately the way of sin.
But there’s a relational side to this too. When we love someone or something, we praise it. Not everyone’s good at showing love in words, preferring to show love in deeds or gift-giving or whatnot. However we show it, part of a healthy relationship with Christ includes declaring our love for him in terms of who he is. We can’t just love the idea of God, or the idea of a savior, but the reality of God, and the real savior, Jesus of Nazareth. If God is a personal God, and as good as we claim him to be, praise is an integral part of our relationship with him. And remember, it’s not one-sided; we’re all awaiting that day when we hear from him, “well done, good and faithful servant.”