"What is Praise?"
Whether we should praise God or not has never really been highly debated amongst Christians. What has been debated over and over is how we should best praise God. Those on the hard right say that God only wants the “frozen chosen,” and that our praise should be invisible. We should keep it to ourselves in a manner that is stoic and self-controlled. On the hard right, there is the “charismatic chaos” which would say that our praise should be exuberant, uninhibited and should fall in line with the likes of that of King David as he became “undignified” before the presence of the Lord.
I think the real division comes in how we understand worship as opposed to praise. Generally, worship in the Bible is spoken of as an “unseen” matter of the heart. We prize what we worship in our souls, and it makes its way visibly out into our actions. Our praise is these actions. Where worship is an invisible act that takes place in the soul, our praise is a visible expression that can be seen.
Every reference to praise in Scripture, from lifting hands, to clapping, playing instruments, standing, kneeling, bowing, falling prostrate, singing, dancing, shouting, laughing, and joyful expressions, is always accompanied by a physical expression. Therefore, praise IS physical.
Our inward worship of our Supreme God drives us toward visible acts of praise. These acts of praise are tangibly seen by all through our five senses: we serve in touch and act through our hands, we speak and sing with our mouth, we look at things with our eyes and visualize more in our imaginations, we taste and consume, and we choose what to hear and therefore follow.
Praise is physical. There is no way around it. Scripture portrays men and women of physical praise, not as immature, but rather as deeply mature and enriched. If we are on the hard right, and we devalue physical expression, we should ask ourselves to give Biblical answers for our reasoning. We should seek to challenge ourselves to step out in faith and express with our bodies’ our love for God. If we are on the hard left and we count physical displays of praise as important, we should make sure our expressions are for the edifying of the church and that they spring from a wholehearted worship of Jesus, and not simply from emotion.