In the midnight praises, we say, “He made man in His image and His likeness that he may praise Him”. God created us to enjoy his love and presence and we do that when we praise Him. Our church is replete with beautiful praises that are meant to elevate our spirits to contemplate God and to be filled with His peace.
In praise, we do not ask God for anything, we only praise God for who He is and what He has done for us. The only thing we ask for is forgiveness of our sins following the commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ when He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
In Hebrews, St. Paul says, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). You may wonder at the words, “a sacrifice of praise”. A sacrifice in the Old Testament meant slaughtering an animal on the altar as an offering to God for one’s sins and Christ became the ultimate sacrifice for all our sins. Which is why now we no longer need to offer animals since that was only a symbol of the sacrifice of Christ. Since we no longer offer an actual animal sacrifice, the only thing we can offer is ourselves in worship and praise, and that is the sacrifice of praise.
God prepared us for this idea of a sacrifice of praise when He asked Moses to build the altar of incense. Again, an altar was the table that the priest offered the animal sacrifice on so to have an altar of incense was quite a weird idea. This was a symbol of the sacrifice of praise that we now offer in the New Testament since we know that the incense is the “the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8)
We can never find rest if we are only asking God for things. We only find rest when we give and since nothing we every give to God will be adequate enough, the most we can give is ourselves in praising Him and thanking Him. God gave us the ability to praise Him when He saved us and opened the gate of paradise to us so that we can stand in front of Him with boldness and sing praises.
You will notice that praises in our church are musical. Music has a big effect on the human soul. The music used in our church in praises gives it richness and helps us to contemplate the words. You will also notice that there are different tunes used throughout the year based on the season. Each tune is unique to that season and is fitting for that season. For example: the tune that is used during the Great Lent is mournful and is meant to lead us to repentance whereas the tune used during the Holy 50 Days after the resurrection is very joyful and is meant to draw our focus to the joy of the resurrection. Throughout the liturgical year, the tune changes as we celebrate each part of the life of Christ.
As we have seen, the praises in our church are meant to elevate us to offering ourselves to God; therefore, they must be done with sincerity of heart, not as a repetitive superficial routine. We must bring to our mind that we are standing before God and sacrificing ourselves to Him who sacrificed Himself for our salvation.