Parents have no problem instructing their children to obey quickly or to be kind to others. There is no dispute about teaching children that they should not hit each other or that they should respect authority. But what about commanding your children to praise God? Does that seem a bit unusual?
Let’s think about this for a moment. The statement praise God is not just about saying the words praise God. Psalm 78 exhorts Israel not to hide the praiseworthy deeds of God from their children. As you read the psalm, you see that this is exactly what occurs. God’s deeds are listed so that he can be praised!
So, when the scriptures say “Praise God”, it is not an option to consider whether one feels like singing praise songs. It is a command to remember and relate the praiseworthy deeds of God to ourselves, our children and others. Just as “love your neighbor as yourself” is a command, so is “praise God” a command.
This means it is right to include the praise of God in the instruction of your children. Refusing to praise God is an act of disobedience just as much as refusing to come when called is an act of disobedience. Just a note of caution. Instructing teenagers is different than instructing toddlers. God’s commands are just as authoritative in each case but the application of how you teach God’s commands will differ as your child grows older.
Praising God is not natural just as preferring others above yourself is not natural. It is a blessing that we are commanded to praise, because if we were not commanded to do so, we would not! Therefore, teaching children to praise God is part of raising them in the fear and discipline of the Lord. Praising God for who he is and what he does is something that God requires, just as much as God requires being kind and compassionate.
Praise of God is essential if you and your children are to have an accurate view of reality. A lack of praise leads to arrogance and cynicism. Your life is incomplete without the practice of praising God!
Teach your children to praise God. Their lives will be empty without praise. And like any other command, you must model the joy of praising God in your life to make your instruction credible.
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits…