Thanksgiving, Praise, and Worship

By Tabitha Thompson

Psalms 34:1-3: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.”

Lately, I have really been diving into the difference between Praise and Worship. For so long I have put the two together without a second thought. I think a majority of us do this. And while they are connected, we must realize they are different. Praise and worship help us enter into the presence of God. Now, I don’t want to say there’s a formula for entering into the presence of the Lord. However, I do believe there is a progression of how to enter in and ascend. And the Bible is clear on how to do that.

Psalm 100: 4 says, “Enter into His gates with Thanksgiving and into His courts with Praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name.”

As we come before God to enter into His presence, we enter in with Thanksgiving and Praise. I have found that the sweetest and most beautiful times with the Lord have been when I come before Him, thanking and praising Him first.

Psalm 105:1-3 tells us what to give thanks for: “Give thanks unto the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the people! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who see the Lord!”

When I begin to recount and thank Him for all that He has done for me, I remind myself of all that He is in my life and I just get excited and I thank Him over and over. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by His goodness as I think about ALL the things He has brought me through.

And then Psalm 150:2 tells us how to Praise Him: “Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to his excellent greatness! Praise Him with the trumpet, the lute, and harp, with timbrel and dance, and with stringed instruments, flutes, and loud, clashing cymbals!! Let everything that has breath Praise the Lord!

Praise is different from Thanksgiving. Praise is His character and who He is. So after Thanksgiving, I Praise Him for being such a wonderful Father to me. As I praise Him, my faith is being stirred up because I am reminding myself there is nothing He cannot do!

Praise is how we enter in. Praise is how we ascend!

Psalms 24:3 says, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place?”

The goal is to go from the gates to the courts, to the Holy Place, and into the Holy of Holies which is the presence of God. (According to Hebrews 9:1-8)

Now as a worship leader, I can lead you into Thanksgiving, and I can lead you into Praise. But I cannot lead you to Worship. Worship comes as an invitation of the Holy Spirit to come and be where God is. But you have got to have the desire and hunger to go in. God wants you to come in. He is seeking worshippers who will worship in spirit and truth.

Why? 

Because worship is intimate…and it’s vulnerable.

There’s a story in the Bible that gives a really good example of the progression of Praise into Worship, in Matthew 21: 7-9

“They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And the great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out saying:

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the Highest!!”

I like to imagine this story as I praise the Lord. I close my eyes and I see the Lord on the donkey as he is riding into town. I am on the side of the road and I begin to take my coat off and lay it down on the road. In fact, I cast off anything I have to lay before him. And then I pick up my palm branch and I wave it as I praise Him, shouting Hosanna in the Highest! THIS is praise!

And suddenly, the Lord is not entering into the town anymore. I now realize He is HERE! He is right in front of me. He has stopped before me and gotten off the donkey. He is standing in front of me and looking me directly into my eyes and my whole being is flooded with such love and compassion.

And then he tells me… ”my child I love you.” And I respond, “Jesus, I love you too.” I am no longer shouting and waving my palm branch. I am bowing before him in adoration, completely in awe of Him.


THIS is worship.

Worship is when you shut away with God. You block everything and everyone out and it’s just you and Him. You pour out your love on Him. And He pours His love upon you. You give everything to Him. Nothing is held back and nothing is hidden.

Worship is a time of love.

February 29, 2024