I was late to the Thankfulness list movement, mostly because I tend to shun things “everyone” is doing. But eventually I got there. In fact, I’ve been doing a Thankful list for so long that I am now closing in on 10,000 things I’m thankful for! But lately, as I’ve been reading the Psalms and a couple of different devotional works, I’ve been thinking about the difference between thankfulness and praise.
Because there is a difference.
Thankfulness is an attitude of gratitude. Praise involves gratitude, but it is so much more than that. It is approval, admiration, commendation, honor.
In my Thankful list, I have often included attributes of God, for I am, indeed, thankful for who He is. But I realized that being thankful for who God is doesn’t encompass the entirely of praise. I realized I needed to focus on praising Him as well as being thankful to and for Him.
So I started another list.
I now head each list in a way that makes me more intentional in my additions to it. One list is “I am THANKFUL for . . .” The other is “I PRAISE You because . . .”
This exercise—an exercise in semantics, really—has made a huge difference in my heart. To focus on praising God for who He is puts Him in the correct perspective. He is high and lifted up. He is holy and righteous. He is strong and loving and kind and compassionate—all the things I struggle to be, all the things I cannot be without the power of His Spirit.
This focus on praise also drives me to Scripture, for there I find the nuances of His character for which to praise Him. So often my praise list comes directly from whatever I’m reading or memorizing in the moment. For instance, in my memorization review of Psalm 103 I can praise God because He pardons, heals, redeems. He performs righteous deeds and judgments for the oppressed. He makes His ways known. He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. And that’s just in the first few verses!
So as we race though this month of Thanksgiving—when we are thankful for all God has done for us and given to us—may we allow our thanksgiving to usher in praise. Take time to remember who God is and why we serve Him. And in this marriage of thankfulness and praise, our hearts will be very ready to turn to the next season of worship: Advent.