Prayer of Praise

Based upon Catechism paragraphs 2639-49:

When we praise God, we glorify Him purely because of Who He Is – the all-holy, all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful, all-beautiful One.

Praise therefore has a different aspect from the other forms of prayer, which in some way refer to ourselves and what God does for us. We bless God in response to His blessings upon us, and adore Him in recognition of our status as creatures; we offer thanksgiving to God for His abundant gifts; we ask Him to take care of our needs in prayers of petition; and we pray on behalf of others in our prayers of intercession.

In prayers of praise, however, we are focused upon God Himself, loving Him for His Own sake. We exult in the sheer awesomeness of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – Who Is Being itself, in glorious perfection forever, transcending time.

The technical term for a prayer of praise is “doxology,” a loan word from Greek. Examples include the “Glory to God in the highest” that we sing at Mass, the “Glory Be,” and the phrase added to the Lord’s Prayer, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours, now and forever.”

As the conclusion to the “Our Father” implies, the other forms of prayer logically lead us into praise. Blessing, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession all call to mind the infinite goodness, generosity, and majesty of God, a reflection that culminates in our praising God just for being God.

This is illustrated to the highest degree at Mass: “The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is ‘the pure offering’ of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God’s name, and according to the traditions of East and West, it is the ‘sacrifice of praise.’”

Blessing & Adoration

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 2626-28:

Blessing is a form of prayer that underscores how our prayer is a personal encounter, a dialogue, with God.

Recognizing that all of our gifts are blessings from God, we respond in kind by “blessing” God: “because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One Who is the source of every blessing.” A twofold movement occurs: our prayer of blessing rises to God, and His blessing descends upon us, in a continuous cycle of grace.

Closely linked to the concept of blessing is “adoration,” whereby we realize our status as creatures, utterly dependent upon God for our very existence.

Adoration necessarily involves a healthy sense of humility. By seeing ourselves as we truly are, and admitting our human limitations and frailties, we are better able to feel our need for God.

Children are especially open to this spiritual insight, and we can learn from their readiness to glimpse God’s presence. Asking our children how God has blessed them each day may be a helpful prelude to family prayer time.