Everyone likes being praised. It’s a huge ego bump, after all. But why does God need it? I mean, what kind of egomaniac needs millions of people all over the world praising his name? Isn’t that a little arrogant?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Maybe it isn’t God who needs our worship or praise. Maybe it’s us. I mean, after all, what does worship do for us human beings?
First of all, it connects us to a larger us —the body of worshippers the world over, united by faith and faithful action. But also, and just as important, it connects us to an even bigger us—God.
The Christian mystical tradition tells us that our separateness is an illusion, and part of growing spiritually is breaking through that illusion to discover who we really are. As mystics are fond of saying, “there is only One Being in the universe—and you are part of that One Being.” Worship dissolves the illusion, and allows us to feel what is Real—that there is no distinction between God and us. It connects us to God, to our true identity.
So if God doesn’t need our worship, what does God need? Anything?
Do you know that craving that we have to connect to God? God craves it, too. God doesn’t need our praise, but he does need our friendship, our cooperation, our connection. In short, relationship. We don’t know why, but ever since a strange God came to Abraham and said, “Let’s make a deal…” scripture has been clear about this point. God craves relationship with human beings. God craves relationship with you.
How do we foster relationship? The same way we foster any relationship: spending time, talking, doing things together. It seems strange that the maker of the universe desires to spend time with little old me, but it’s true. The mystics speak about it being like a love affair. God is courting us, wanting to marry us forever. God is ready for the commitment, but we usually take some time to get used to the idea.
I know one thing about intimate relationships: partners always love to hear that he or she is pretty or handsome, confident and able, and it’s important to express gratitude and appreciation. In other words, praise.
It’s not so strange that we want to worship, after all. It’s a normal part of any relationship—we just use different words for it.