The only other thing I want to write about from this chapter is the times Paul wrote about the reasons he had found for himself and the Ephesians to praise God.
Praising God, believe it or not, was not something I was very familiar with and/or comfortable with while I was in the ministry or in the meeting church in general. It strikes me now as almost unbelievable, but it was true. As a part of the meeting church, I deemed praising God as something only ‘religious’ people did, and one of the big fears had always been to be like religious people. Religious people were made fun of and we assumed everything they did was for show and that none of ‘them’ were sincere or genuine. I am appalled at that ignorance and blindness now on my part for sure. Oh had we but been ‘religious’ because by not being so, we missed out on so many blessings.
Praising God can be done privately and quietly by all means. But I will never forget the JOY bursting from me those first times I used my body to physically help me praise God by raising my hands while singing in worship, or raising my face towards the heavens. Standing to my feet sometimes; both at home or corporately with other believers. Never had anything felt so freeing or so right for me. I felt a release that I knew had been building for decades because FINALLY I had a way to outwardly express what I was feeling within. And no one can accuse me of doing this EVER for show. No one. In those moments, I am totally alone with God; alone with Jesus. I understand finally why David danced before the Lord in the street; he couldn’t NOT do it.
In verse 3, Paul mentions how we praise God. In verse 6, so we praise God. In verse 12, it was God’s purpose that we should praise Him, and in verse 14 Paul wrote about one more reason to praise Him.
I don’t think Paul mentioned praise 4 times accidentally. He specifically used the word praise. In the meetings, we watered down that word to mean ‘giving thanks’ which it does mean in a sense, and there is certainly nothing wrong with giving thanks to God for all his gifts and faithfulness to us! We do this all the time. But the word praise, the very word itself, takes our gratitude one step higher (or 2 or 3!) it seems because we’re not just giving thanks to God but we’re making everything about God. It’s not about us anymore. It’s not about how we feel or what we have done. It’s all about Him. That, to me, is Praise.
One of the meetings hymns comes to mind:
I will not cease to praise Him for all that He has done, I will not cease to labour until the night has come, I will not cease to follow the path that Jesus trod, I will not cease to worship Him, my Savior and my God.