Open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise

When I first began to draw near to belief in God and even for some time after it had been give to me, I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should  “praise” God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it….

But the most obvious fact about praise–whether of God or anything–strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it.  The world rings with praise–lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game–praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers mountains, rare stamps rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars.  I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least.  The good critics found something to praise in many imperfect works; the bad one continually narrowed the list of books we might be allowed to read….Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible….

The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

 

                   C.S. Lewis, “A Word About Praising” in Reflections on the Psalms.

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