The Practice of Praise: How to Develop the Habit of Abundant, Continual Praise in Your Daily Life

Overview

Do you know why and how you should praise the Lord? Charles Spurgeon discusses how to apply praise to practical purposes, how to increase your daily praise time, and how to establish the habit of praise in your life. You will also learn to develop conversation that praises God.
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Overview

Do you know why and how you should praise the Lord? Charles Spurgeon discusses how to apply praise to practical purposes, how to increase your daily praise time, and how to establish the habit of praise in your life. You will also learn to develop conversation that praises God.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780883682968
  • Publisher: Whitaker House
  • Publication date: 4/28/1995
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 170
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Table of Contents

Contents
1. The Philosophy of Abundant Praise 7
2. More and More 35
3. Morning and Evening Songs 61
4. Acceptable Praises and Vows 89
5. The Power of Prayer & the Pleasure of Praise 117
6. A Life-long Occupation 145
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First Chapter

Chapter 1 The Philosophy of Abundant Praise

"They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness."--Psalm 145:7

This is called "David's Psalm of Praise." You will see all through it that he has a strong desire for God to be greatly magnified. Hence he uses a variety of expressions and repeats himself in his holy zeal. Run your eye down the psalm and notice such words as these: "I will extol thee...I will bless thy name" (v. 1), "Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name forever and ever" (v. 2), "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised" (v. 3), "One generation shall praise thy works to another" (v. 4), "I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty" (v. 5), "Men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts" (v. 6), and other similar words, down to the last verse: "My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever" (v. 21). David is not content with declaring that Jehovah is worthy of praise, or with pleading that His praise ought to be felt in the heart, but he will have it publicly spoken of, openly declared, plainly uttered, and joyfully proclaimed in song. The inspired psalmist, moved by the Holy Ghost, calls upon all flesh and all the works of God to sound forth the praises of the Most High. Will we not respond to the call? In outlining his design for praise, David speaks in verse five of the majesty of God, the glorious King. His eye had seemed to be dazzled by the glorious splendor of that august throne, so he cries out, "I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty." Then he ponders the power of that throne of majesty and of the force with which its just decrees are carried out, and so in verse six he exclaims, "Men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts, and I will declare thy greatness." Here he speaks in brief both as to the majesty and the might of the dread Almighty. However, when he turns his thoughts to the divine goodness, he enlarges and uses words which indicate the stress which he lays upon his subject and his desire to linger over it. "They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness." Now, our desire is that we also may praise and magnify the name of the infinite Jehovah without restraint or limit, and may especially have our hearts enlarged and our mouths opened wide to speak abundantly of His great goodness. In all of the congregation of believers may the text become true: "They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness." Also having uttered it in plain speech, may we all rise a step higher and sing of His righteousness with glad music. I hope you see the objective, an aim in which I trust you all sympathize. Come, one and all, and praise the Lord. Is the invitation too wide? Observe the ninth verse: "The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. All thy works shall praise thee." I will not limit the invitation of the Lord. Since you all drink of the river of His bounty, render to Him such praises as you can. But there is a special invitation to His saints. Come and bless His name with spiritual, inward, enlightened praise. "Bless the LORD, O house of Levi: ye that fear the LORD, bless the LORD" (Psalm 135:20). In your heart of hearts extol, adore, and make Him great, for it is written, "Thy saints shall bless thee" (Psalm 145:10). Truly this was not written in vain. Let our souls bless the Lord today as the Holy Ghost moves within us. We will focus on two things so that we may promote the objective we have in view. The first is the method of securing the abundant utterance of God's praise as to His goodness; and the second, the motives for desiring to secure this abundant utterance. To begin, let us discover the method of securing abundant utterance of divine praise concerning His goodness. Our text gives us the mental philosophy of abounding praise and shows us the plan by which such praise may be secured. The steps are such as the best philosophical logic approves. First, we will be helped to abundant praise by careful observation. Notice the text: "They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness." In order to recall a memory, there must first of all be observation. A man does not remember what he never knew. This is clear to all, and therefore the point is virtually implied in the text. In proportion to the impression a fact or a truth makes on the mind, in that same proportion it is likely to abide in the memory. If you hear a sermon, that which you remember afterwards is the point which most forcibly strikes you while you are listening to the discourse. At the time, you say, "I will jot that down. I do not want to forget it, because it comes so closely home to me." Whether you use your pencil or not, memory obeys your wish and records it on her tablets. The dealings of God towards us are just the same. If we want to remember His goodness, we must let it make an impression on us. We must notice it, consider it, meditate on it, estimate it, and allow it to exert its due influence upon our hearts. Then we will not need to say that we must try to remember, for we will remember as a matter of course. The impression, having been clearly and deeply made, will not easily fade away, but we will recall it later. The first thing, therefore, towards the plentiful praising of God is a careful observation of His goodness. Now, see what it is that we are to observe: God's goodness. Too many are blind to that blessed object of observation. They receive the bounties of providence, but do not see the hand of God in them. They are fed by His liberality and guided by His care, but attribute all that they receive to themselves or to secondary agents. God is not in all their thoughts, and consequently His goodness is not considered. They have no memory of His goodness because they have made no observation of it. Some indeed, instead of observing the goodness of God, complain of His unkindness to them and imagine that He is needlessly severe. Like the unprofitable servant in the parable, they say, "I knew thee, that thou art an hard man" (Matthew 25:24). Others sit in judgment of His ways, as recorded in Holy Scripture, and dare to condemn the Judge of all the earth. Denying the goodness of Jehovah, they attempt to set up another God than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who for this enlightened century is a God much too sternly just. However, we worship Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and none other than He. At present many adore new gods, unknown to our forefathers, not like the God of the Old Testament who in the opinion of modern philosophers is as much out of date as Jupiter himself. This day we say with David, "This God is our God forever and ever" (Psalm 48:14). "O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand" (Psalm 95:6-7). As we find the Lord revealed both in the Old and the New Testaments, making no division in the revelation, but regarding it as one grand whole, we behold abundant goodness in Him. Mingled with that awful justice which we would not wish to deny, we see surpassing grace, and we delight that God is love. He is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy. We have no complaints to make against Him. We wish to make no alteration in His dealings or in His character. He is our exceeding joy. The whole heart rejoices in the contemplation of Him. "Who is like unto thee, O LORD? Among the gods who is like unto thee?" (Exodus 15:11). We are then to consider what many will not try to believe: that there is great goodness in Jehovah, the God of creation, providence, and redemption; the God of paradise, Sinai, and Calvary. We are to acquaint ourselves thoroughly with Him as He has made Himself known. We are continually to consider His great goodness, so that we may retain the memory of it. If we are willing to see, we will not lack for opportunities of beholding His goodness every day. It is to be seen in so many acts that I will not begin the list, since I would never complete it. His goodness is seen in creation. It shines in every sunbeam, glitters in every dewdrop, smiles in every flower, and whispers in every breeze. Earth and sea and air, teeming with innumerable forms of life, are all full of the goodness of the Lord. Sun, moon, and stars affirm that the Lord is good, and all terrestrial things echo the proclamation. His goodness is also to be seen in the providence which rules over all. Let rebellious spirits murmur as they may, goodness is enthroned in God's kingdom, and evil and suffering are intruders there. God is good toward all His creatures, but especially toward the objects of His eternal love for whom all things work together for good. However, we can see the noblest form of divine goodness in the domain of grace. Begin with the goodness which shines in our election. Follow the silver thread through redemption, the mission of the Holy Spirit, the calling, the adoption, the preservation, and the perfecting of the chosen. Then you will see riches of goodness which will astound you. Dwell where you may within the kingdom of redemption, and you will see rivers, even oceans of goodness. I leave it to your minds to remember these things and to your lips to speak abundantly of the memory of the Lord's great goodness in the wonders of His salvation. It is not my design to speak for you, but to stir you up to speak for yourselves. The point which struck the psalmist, and should strike us all, is the greatness of His goodness. The greatness of the goodness will be seen by the contemplative mind by considering the person upon whom the goodness rests. "Why is this done to me?" will often be the utterance of a grateful spirit. That God should be good to any of His people shows His mercy, but that He should make me to be one of His and deal so well with me, here His goodness does exceed itself! "Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house?...Is this the manner of man, O LORD? (2 Samuel 7:18, 19). It is great goodness, since it visits persons so insignificant, so guilty, and so deserving of wrath. Blessed be God that He is good to persons so ungrateful, to persons who cannot even at the best make any adequate return, who, alas, do not even make such return as they could. Lord, when I consider what a brutish creature I am, it is easy to confess the greatness of Your goodness. The greatness of His goodness becomes apparent when we think of the greatness of God the benefactor. "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:4). That God Himself should bless His people, that He should come in the form of human flesh to save His people, that He should dwell in us, walk with us, and be to us a God, a very present help in trouble, is a miracle of love. Is not this great goodness? I could very well understand the infinity of His benevolence commiting us to the charge of angels, but it is amazing that it is written, "I the LORD do keep it: I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day" (Isaiah 27:3). Oh, the greatness of such personal condescension, such personal care! Heir of heaven, from the fountain of all goodness you will drink, and not from its streams alone. God Himself is your portion and the lot of your inheritance. You are not set aside with lesser creatures; the Creator Himself is yours. Will you not remember this, and so keep alive the memory of His goodness? The greatness of the goodness is on some occasions made manifest by the evil from which it rescues us. Nobody knows the blessing of health as well as he who has been tortured with pain in every limb. Then he blesses Jehovah Rapha, the healing Lord, for his restoration. None know what salvation means like those who have been crushed under the burden of guilt and have been racked by remorse. Did you ever feel yourself condemned by God and cast out from His presence? Did the pangs of hell commence in your startled conscience? Did your soul long for death rather than life, while thick clouds and darkness enshrouded your guilty spirit? If so, when the Lord has put away your sin and said, "Thou shalt not die" (2 Samuel 12:13), when He has brought you forth from prison, broken your chains, and set your feet upon a rock, then has the new song been in your mouth, even eternal praise. Then have you known it to be great goodness which thus delivered you. We may imagine what the bottom of the sea is like, and conceive what it must be to be borne down to the lowest depths where seaweed is wrapped about dead men's brows. Yet, I assure you, our imaginations but poorly realize what Jonah experienced when the floods encompassed him and he sank to the bottom of the sea. When the Lord brought up his life from corruption, then he had a strong, vivid memory of the great goodness of God, knowing he had been delivered from such death. It is in the storm that we learn to "praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men" (Psalm 107:8). If I might have it so, I could wish my whole life to be as calm as a fair summer's evening when scarcely a breeze stirs the happy flowers. I could desire that nothing might again disturb the serenity of my restful spirit. But were it to be so, I suspect I would know but little of the great goodness of the Lord. The sweet singer in Psalm 107 ascribes the song of gratitude not to dwellers at home, but to wanderers in the wilderness; not to those who are always at liberty, but to emancipated captives; not to the strong and vigorous, but to those who barely escape the gates of death; not to those who stand on a glassy sea, but to those who are tossed on a raging ocean. Doubtless it is that we would not perceive the greatness of goodness if we did not see the depth of the horrible pit from which it snatches us. You were almost ruined in business, friend, but you escaped by the skin of your teeth. Then you praised God for His great goodness. The physicians gave up on your dear child, and your wife apparently sickened to the point of death, but both of these have been spared. Here you see the heights and depths of mercy. Now, therefore, lay up this great goodness in your memory to be the material for future psalms of praise. Nor is this the only way of estimating God's great goodness. You may estimate it by the actual greatness of the benefits bestowed. He gives like a king--no, He gives as only God can give. Behold, your God has not given you a few minted coins of gold, but He has endowed you with the mines themselves. He has not, as it were, handed you a cup of cold water, but He has brought you to the flowing fountain and given the well itself to you. God Himself is ours: "The LORD is my portion, saith my soul" (Lamentations 3:24). If you must have a little list of what He has given you, ponder the following: He has given you a name and a place among His people. He has given you the rights and the nature of His sons. He has given you the complete forgiveness of all your sins, and you have it now. He has given you a robe of righteousness which you are wearing now. He has given you a superlative loveliness in Christ Jesus. He has given you access to Him and acceptance at the mercy seat. He has given you this world and worlds to come. He has given you all that He has. He has given you His own Son, and how shall He now refuse you anything? Oh, He has given as only God could. The greatness of His goodness this tongue can never hope to tell. As for myself, I will speak of my Lord as I find Him, for the old proverb bids us do so. Whatever you say, I have nothing to speak but what is good of my God, my King, from my childhood until now. He amazes me with His mercy. He utterly astounds me with His lovingkindness. He causes my spirit almost to swoon away with delight beneath the sweetness of His love. Yet He has not spared me the rod, nor will He. Blessed be His name for that also. "Shall we receive good at the hand of the God, and shall we not also receive evil?" (Job 2:10) said the patriarch. But we will go beyond that and assert that evil is no evil when it comes from His hand. Everything is good which He ordains. We may not see it to be so at the time, but so it is. Our heavenly Father seems to rise from good to better, and from better to yet better still in infinite progression. He causes the roadways of our lives to rise higher and higher, and carries them over lofty mountains of lovingkindness. Our paths wind ever upward to yet higher summits of abounding mercy. Therefore, let His praise increase, and the name of the Lord be greater still. I want to urge you, dear friends, to observe the goodness of God carefully for your souls' good. There is a great difference between eyes and no eyes. Yet, many have eyes and yet see not. God's goodness flows before them, but they say, "Where is it?" They breathe it but ask, "Where is it?" They sit at the table and are fed upon it. They wear it upon their limbs. It is in the very beating of their hearts, and yet they wonder, "Where is it?" Do not be so blind. "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib" (Isaiah 1:3). Let us not be slower than beasts of the field, but let us know the Lord and consider His great goodness. I have said that the text contains the philosophy of great praise, and we see this in the second stage of the process, namely, diligent memory. That which has made an impression upon the mind by observation is fastened upon the memory. Memory seems to lie in two things: first, in retaining an impression, and then in recollecting it at a future time. I suppose that, more or less, everything that happens to us is retained in the mind, but it is not easy to reproduce the fainter impressions when you wish to do so. I know in my own mind a great many things that I am sure I remember, but yet I cannot always recall them instantly. Give me a quarter of an hour to run through a certain arrangement of ideas, and I can say, "Oh, yes, I have it. It was in my mind, but I could not recollect it at the time." Memory collects facts and afterwards recollects them. The matters before us are recorded by memory, but the tablet may be mislaid. The perfection of memory is to preserve the tablet in a well-known place from which you can bring it forth at any moment. I have dwelt at length on observation with the idea that you may begin correctly from the very outset. By getting vivid impressions, you may be the better able to retain and to recall them. We cannot utter what we have forgotten. Thus, we need close observation to establish a strong memory concerning the Lord's great goodness. How are we to strengthen our memory about God's goodness? First, we should be well acquainted with the documents in which His goodness is recorded. A man may be said to keep in memory a fact which did not happen in his own time, but hundreds of years before he was born. He remembers it because he has seen the document in which the fact is recorded. In a certain sense this is within the range of memory. It is within the memory of man, the united memory of the race, because it has been recorded and can be retrieved. Beloved, be familiar with the Word of God. Stock your memory with the ancient records of His great goodness. Drink in the whole narrative of the evangelists, and despise not Moses and the prophets. Soak in the Psalms, the Song of Solomon, and other such books until you come to know the well-recorded goodness of the Lord. Have His words and deeds of goodness arranged and ready at hand. Let them be at your finger tips, as it were, because they are in your heart's core. Then you will be sure abundantly to utter the memory of His goodness, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34). Next, if you would strengthen your memory, diligently observe memorials. There are two in the Christian church. There is the memorial of your Savior's death, burial, and resurrection as set forth in believers' baptism, in which we are buried and risen with the Lord Christ. Forget not that memorial of His deep anguish when He was immersed in grief and plunged in agony, for He bids you observe it. As for the Holy Supper, never neglect it, but be often at the table, where again you set forth His death until He come. He has bidden you to do this in remembrance of Him. Cherish devoutly the precious memorial. Great events in nations have been preserved in the memory of future generations by some ordained ceremonial. The Lord's Supper is of that kind. Therefore observe well the table of the Lord so that you forget not His great goodness. See how the Jews kept their Exodus in mind by means of the Paschal lamb; how they ate it after the sprinkling of the blood; how they talked to their children and told them of the deliverance from Egypt, abundantly uttering the memory of God's goodness; and how after supper they sang a hymn, even as our text bids us to sing of the goodness of God. Strengthen your memories, then, by reverent attention to the historical documents and the memorial ordinances. Still, the most important is the memory of what has happened to yourself, your own personal experience. I will not give a penny for your religion unless it has taken effect on you. The power of prayer! What of that? Did you ever receive an answer to prayer? Did you ever wrestle with the angel and come away victorious? What do you know about prayer if you never did? You are very orthodox, but unless the doctrines of grace have brought to your soul the grace of the doctrines, and you have tasted and handled them, what do you know about them? You have nothing to remember. O, dear heart, were you ever born again? Then you will remember His great goodness. Were you ever cleansed from your sin and justified in Christ? You will remember His great goodness. Have you been renewed in heart so as to hate sin and live in holiness? If so, you will remember, because you know something which flesh and blood has not revealed unto you. Let every personal mercy be written upon your personal memory. I have heard that the practice of mnemonics, or the strengthening of the memory--for which I do not have a very high esteem--lies in the following of certain methods. According to some, you link one idea with another and recollect a date by associating it with something that you can see. Practice this method in the present case. Remember God's goodness by the objects around you which are associated with it. For instance, let your bed remind you of God's mercy in the night watches, and let your table bring to remembrance His goodness in supplying your daily needs. My garments, when I put them on this morning, reminded me of times when my hand was not capable even of that simple task. All around us there are memoranda of God's love if we choose to read them. The memory of some deed of divine goodness may be connected with every piece of furniture in your room. There is the old armchair where you wrestled with God in great trouble and received a gracious answer. You cannot forget it. You do not pray as well anywhere else as you do there. You have become attached to that particular chair. That well-thumbed Bible--your special one--is getting rather worn now and is marked up a good deal. Nevertheless, out of that very copy the promises have gleamed forth like the stars in heaven, and so it helps your memory to use it. I remember a poor man giving me what I thought great praise. I visited him in the hospital, and he said, "You seem to have filled this room with your texts, for everything reminds me of what I have heard you say. As I lie here, I recall your stories and sayings." In much the same way, we should recollect what God has done for us by looking at the various places, circumstances, times, and persons which were the surroundings of His mercy. O for a clear remembrance of God's goodness. Memory is sometimes helped by classification. When you send your maid to a shop for a variety of articles, she may forget something unless you arrange the order of the list so that one suggests another. Take care to set God's mercies in order. Enumerate them as you can, and so fix them in your memory. At other times, when persons have very bad memories, they like to jot down on a bit of paper that which is important to remember. I have often done so, and then have placed the paper where I have never found it again. A thread tied around the finger and many other memory devices have been tried. I do not mind what it is, so long as you try to recall God's mercy to you by some means or other. Do make some record of His goodness. You know the day in which you lost that money, do you not? "Yes, very well." You recall the day of the month of Black Friday, or Black Monday, up in the city. You have evil days indelibly noted in the black pocketbook of memory. Do you remember as well the days of God's special lovingkindness to you? You should do so. Carefully take note of noteworthy benefits and mark remarkable blessings. Thus, shall you in future days "abundantly utter the memory of God's great goodness." The first two processes for securing abundant praise are observation and remembrance. The next is utterance: "They shall abundantly utter." The word contains the idea of boiling or bubbling up like a fountain. It signifies a holy fluency about the mercy of God. We have quite enough fluent people about, but many of them are idlers for whom Satan finds abundant things to say. It matters not how fluent men and women are, if they will be fluent on the topic now before us. Open your mouths. Let the praise pour forth. Let it come, rivers of it. Stream away! Gush away, all that you possibly can. "They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness." Do not stop the joyful speakers. Let them go on forever. They do not exaggerate, for they cannot. You say they are enthusiastic, but they are not half up to pitch yet. Encourage them to become more excited and speak even more fervently. Go on, go on. Pile it up. Say something greater, grander, and more fiery still! You cannot exceed the truth. You have come to a theme where your most fluent powers will fail in utterance. The text calls for a sacred fluency, and I would exhort you liberally to exercise it when you are speaking of the goodness of God. "They shall abundantly utter [it]." That is, they will constantly be doing it. They will talk about God's goodness all day long. When you step into their cottages, they will begin to tell you of God's goodness to them. When you bid adieu to them at night, you will hear more last words upon the favorite theme. Very likely they will repeat themselves, but that does not matter. You cannot have too much of this truly good thing. Just as the singers in the temple repeated again and again the chorus, "His mercy endureth forever," so may we repeat our praises. Some of God's mercies are so great and sweet that, if we never had another throughout eternity, the recollection of the single favor might forever remain. The splendor of divine love is so great that a single manifestation of it is often all that we can bear. To have two such revelations at once would be as overpowering as if God would make two suns when one already fills the world with light. Oh, praise the Lord with boundless exultation. Rouse all your faculties to this service, and "abundantly utter the memory of [his] great goodness." (chapter continues)

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