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The Difference Between Thanking and Praising the Lord

The difference between thanking and praising the Lord

Have you ever wondered about the difference between thanking and praising the Lord? The Bible talks about both, but it’s easy to combine the two as one.

It’s easy to think that they both mean the same thing when actually there’s a difference, and knowing this difference can help us to experience the Lord in a more detailed way.

So what’s the difference between thanking and praising the Lord, and how does it affect our experience?

What it means to thank the Lord

To thank the Lord is to thank Him for the things that He’s done for us and provided for us.

We may thank Him for another day to experience Him and enjoy Him or for providing us with food to eat and a house to live in. We may thank Him for giving us a job when we’re looking for work or thank Him for saving a family member that we’ve been praying for over a period of years.

This is what it means to thank the Lord: we thank Him for all of the things that He’s done for us.

What it means to praise the Lord

Praising the Lord, on the other hand, is even higher and more meaningful than thanking Him.

When we praise the Lord, we praise Him for who He is and what He’s done apart from what He’s done for us. For example, we can praise Him for His redeeming death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension to the heavens. We can praise Him as the One seated at the right hand of God far above all rule and authority and as the One who is the Head over all things to the church.

These are all marvelous aspects of who Christ is–apart from any benefit to us. Regardless of our situation or what we’re going through, Christ is a marvelous and glorious One who is worthy to be praised.

Why it’s good to thank and praise the Lord

As Christians, it’s very good for us to thank and to praise the Lord.

We should be thankful people.

We should be people who take time to express our thanks to the Lord. Thanking Him is a practice that’s mentioned in the Bible, and it’s good for us to experience this in our Christian life. It saves us from being bitter, and it saves us from being ungrateful.

First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says this about thanking the Lord:

16 Always rejoice,
17 Unceasingly pray,
18 In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This verse mentions that in everything we should give thanks. Why? Because it’s impossible for us to know all of the wonderful things the Lord does and the marvelous ways that He works. Thus, we want to be those who thank Him in all things.

We also want to be those who praise Him.

Praising the Lord is very good and very important for us to do. It allows us to get out of our situation and to forget about ourselves. We can forget about any problems and any woes we may have. We can forget about the job we’ve yet to receive or how poor or pitiful we think that we are.

Instead, we get out of ourselves and praise God for who He is. No matter what we’re experiencing or what we’re going through, God is worthy to be praised. He’s the Creator of the Universe, the Redeemer, the Lamb, the Christ of God, the Savior, and the King. He’s so many things to us! As such a One, he’s worthy to be praised!

It’s good to praise the Lord at any time! Praise Him in a meeting with other Christians.  Even praise Him in your car on the way to work. Don’t forget to praise Him when you’re at home and your situation isn’t so promising. Even if the outlook is bleak, you can take time to praise the Lord. In doing so, you’ll get out of your situation, and see Christ as the wonderful One that He is.

Realize that even though your situation is not so good, Christ is good and worthy to be praised! Forget your problems and only care to praise the Lord for who He is. You’ll be lifted out of your situation and into His victory.

Let’s praise Him:

Lord, I praise You for who You are and for what You’ve done. You are the One sitting on the throne at the right hand of God. Praise You as the One who is far above all rule and authority and power and lordship. Lord, You are worthy to be praised. You’re the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the firstborn of all creation and the firstborn son of God. Praise You Lord Jesus for who You are! You are surely worthy to be praised! Praise You dearest Lord!

By praising in this way, we get out of our situation, and see the Lord for who He really is. We forget about ourselves, and  look away unto Jesus who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2).

Make thanking and Praising a daily practice.

Whether you’re going through a difficult time or not, take time to thank and to praise the Lord. Thank Him and praise Him at any time. Practice to thank and praise Him first. It’s the best way to come to Him (Psa. 100:4).

We have so much to thank Him for because He’s done so much for us. We also have so much to praise Him for because of the marvelous, wonderful Person that He is.

May we all learn to thank and to praise the Lord in a daily way. By thanking Him, we acknowledge all of the things He’s done for us; by praising Him, we get out of our situation and praise Him as the One who’s worthy to be praised.

Oh Lord! Teach us how to thank You and praise You so that we can experience You in a deeper and richer way!

If you enjoyed this post please take a moment to leave a comment. You may also enjoy reading the rest of the series on the Holding to Truth Prayer Life page.  

References and Recommended Reading:

  • This post was inspired by message 14 in the Life Study of Ephesians by Witness Lee. You can read it online at ministybooks.org
  • Here is a short song you can sing to strengthen your thanking and praising the Lord.

About Joe Putnam

Hi, my name is Joe Putnam. I live in Lubbock, TX, and contribute posts here on Holding to Truth from time to time. Please leave a comment to let us know what you enjoyed from this post. Thanks!

79 Replies

  1. Susie

    Amen. I was very helped to see the difference between thanking and praising the Lord. I was particularly touched with the practice of praising the Lord. To get out of our situation, drop all our anxieties, and just look unto Him. Not because he has done anything in particular for us (although he has done much ), not because it benefits us, but simply because He is worthy to be praised. He is the only one that is real! He is EVERYTHING! Praise the Lord.

    1. Helen Reilly

      A sister sent this to me when I was asking her and others what is the difference between praising and praying…
      Thank you…
      Then I thought…Joe Putman in Irvine…that is where my husband and I had hospitality during one conference…many many years ago. Now sure if the fathers name was Joe or the son.
      I know I corresponded with the daughter for awhile… Her name started with S.
      Praise the Lord for who He is.
      Thank the Lord for His Body.

    2. Wilfred Faulkner

      Exactly. Praise the Lord.

    3. Maureen

      A very enlightening explanation about the difference between praising and thanking. I never quite looked at the distinctions before

      1. Tom Smith

        Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, / His courts with praise; / Give thanks to Him; bless His name.” Thanks is basic. If we don’t know what else to pray, we can always give thanks to our Lord. Thanks ushers us into “His gates.” But praise takes us deeper and brings us higher. We “Enter His…His courts with praise.” Praise requires a deeper appreciation for the Person Himself. May we appreciate all the riches of His being and praise Him accordingly. Thanks for the comment.

        1. Benjamin Ogbonna

          Many thanks Tom… I enjoyed the comments

          1. Tom Smith

            Glad you found the post and comment helpful. Whether thanking or praising the Lord, we please God and fulfills God’s will. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul says, “Always rejoice, unceasingly pray, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God wants us to live such a a rejoicing, praying, and thanking life. Such a life is a glory to God and a shame to His enemy. It is just that thanking gets us in the gate and praising takes us further and higher. As Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, / His courts with praise; / Give thanks to Him; bless His name.” It is so simple to begin thanking the Lord for all that He has given us and done for us. Then, as we’re drawn into His presence, we spontaneously begin to appreciate Him for who He is. This brings us deeper and higher in our Christian experience. Thank you for your comment.

  2. I always wondered what’s the difference between these two, and I love it the way you presented it here. We thank the Lord because of what He has done and what He has given to us, but we praise Him for what He is. We need to always rejoice, unceasingly pray, and in everything give thanks! We don’t know why things happen this way – but when we thank the Lord, we will see that the Lord is operating all things to our good.

    Also, we need to Praise the Lord! Why? Not because we feel good, or because there’s something nice that happened to us, etc – we need to praise the Lord because of what He is, what He does, and also for what He gives! Praise the Lord! Thank You, Lord!

    1. John Eidsmoe

      Stefan, You have made the distinction crystal clear: We thank God for what He has done (and is doing, and will do). We praise Him for Who and What He is. Thank you!

  3. Abnel Menendez

    How encouraging to know that we can get out of our situation just by praising Him. The Lord is worthy of our praise!

    1. D. Jayaseelan

      The difference you have explained helped me to share in the Sunday preaching in the Church. God bless you.

      1. Tom Smith

        Thank you for sharing the benefit you received. May all the Lord’s children not only thank Him for His benefits to them but go on to praise Him for Who He is. Such a view greatly uplifts our prayer life and brings us deeper into the Lord, infusing us with more of His glory (2 Cor. 3:18). When we praise the Lord, for who He is, we behold Him and are transformed by His Spirit of life.

  4. I’m really impressed by this matter of praising the Lord. It’s wonderful to realize that we can praise the Lord simply because He is worthy. When we praise the Lord, we transcend our situation to touch the ascended Christ who is far above all our problems and circumstances. Regardless of our feelings or personal situations, we can praise the Lord for what He has done, who He is, and even that He is.

    Thanks for the helpful post, and may the Lord train us to thank and praise Him continually.

  5. Todd B.

    Thank You Lord for everything, good or bad. Thank You Lord for You. Praise the Lord for this day.

  6. Hallelujah 4thanking and praising of the Lord.its so wonderful to see that praising is higher and apreciated by the Lord than thanking Him.we praise Him 4 what He is,4 what He has attained and obtained,4 what He has accomplished on the cross of calvry ie His death,burial,resurrection and ascending work,4 becoming Life-giving Spirit,His dispensing,infusion,regeneration which is summed up as ”redeemptaion work”.All of these that He has done 4 us qualified Him to receive our thanks and praises.Thank u Lord!

  7. jim

    thank you for your words bless you. Praise the Lord!

  8. Phillip Chikutu

    Thank you Lord for giving me a new life through our Saviour, Jesus Christ of Nazarete. I praise your name because you are always gracious, merciful and patient! Teach me to follow your will with all my heart

  9. Thank you brother for sharing these truths! I am excited, knowing that we don't have to wait for our situations to change because Praising Him doesn't depend on our condition/situation. He is so much that He is always 'worthy to be praised' for who He is

    Thank you brother for sharing these wonderful truths! We often realize that we can thank Him for so many things, but I’m excited knowing that we don’t have to wait for our situation/condition to improve before we Praise Him. Why? Because He is always ‘worthy to be praised’. He is such a marvelous and wonderful Person! He is so much !

  10. Mikemer

    This is actually d point….I so understand the whole concept of thanking God and praising him……a wonderful approach to it

  11. martha

    I feel good to have know the different between thanking and praising God i thing i should now start praising God more

  12. simon thomas

    Thnks I understood a little .about thanksgiving. And praising the Lord.

  13. Brandi Summers

    This really helped me understand more about how to praise and thank th Lord!
    I’m seeking The Lord in my life and its all new to me if anyone has ideas or thoughts
    For me to go farther in my faith please comment or email!

  14. rose

    Thank you so much for this post. We had a sermon on this 2 Sundays ago and it really got my attention. This is a wonderful follow up for me. I have been trying to learn how to pray better, more appropriately and God has been good to me and has had people like my minister and you show me some true ways to do that. Thank you very much!

  15. P. Shanglai

    Thanks. May God bless you. It will be good if you described more detail.

  16. Michelle

    Thank you for your post. It is very encouraging to truly praise and thank our wonderful Savior with all that we are!

  17. Martha Lumoso

    I have always wanted to know how to praise my God. I would also like to know how to worship him. thank you this has been helpful

    1. Hi Martha, I’m really happy you found this post to be helpful. We can praise our God for so many things that He is, that He’s done, and that He’s currently doing. He is so worthy of our praise!

  18. Could you answer the question without using the same word we are asking to define ” PRAISE”and without thanking him ,just praising him

    1. Tom Smith


      Praise is the expression of our sentiment to God for who He is and what He does, without regard for any benefit He bestows on us. For example, we may praise God for His glory or His wisdom. Thanks is an expression of our appreciation for what God has done for us. We may thank God for saving us, for forgiving us, even for giving us our food and health.

      The following quote may also be helpful in answering your question:

      We, the sons of God, do not praise God very much. Usually we simply thank Him. When we say, “Praise the Lord,” we often mean, “Thank the Lord.” To thank God means that we have received a certain benefit and thank God for it. But when we praise God, we praise Him primarily for what He is or what He does, no matter whether or not we have received any benefits from Him. In praising God you need to forget yourself and get outside of yourself. When you are truly praising God, it seems that you do not exist. You see only God, what He is, and what He does. Therefore, you praise Him and speak well concerning Him…Oh, how we need to learn to praise Him! ( Witness Lee, Life-study of Ephesians, Chapter 5, Living Stream Ministry, 1978, p. 50)

      Thanks again for the comment. Hope this response helps.

      1. Heidi Balaraman

        This is so convicting. I am going to pray for this transformation to take place in me–that I would be less and He would become more!!

        1. Tom Smith

          Thank the Lord for His enlightening Word—supplying, convicting and transforming us. The more we contact Him, the more He transfuses us with His divine element. Christ makes home in our heart (Eph. 3:17). When He makes home, self is displaced. Yes, less of us and more of Him. Open to Him each morning by thanking and praising Him and invite Him to make home more in your heart each day. Thank you for sharing your appreciation in a comment.

  19. ralph

    This is a great article and i have a question concerning thanksgiving and praise and the question is, is it possible to thank God without praising Him? Thanks

    1. Tom Smith


      The line between thanks and praise is quite fine in experience. Some thanks may be in the form of praise. For example, thanking Christ for becoming a man to redeem you unto God is a kind of thanks with the essence of praise. However, some may give thanks in a very elementary way with little appreciation for who they are really thanking. For example, a person may thank God for helping them find something they lost–their keys, or wallet or whatever. Thanking is mainly an expression of appreciation for what God does. Praise is our appreciation for who God is…so it is higher. If we’re filled with appreciation for our Lord Himself, then even our thanks will take on the essence of praise. May we continue to advance in our thanks and praise. Thanks for the comment and question.

  20. Gene Dasher

    Thank you for this post, it fits right in with what I have been preparing for my congregation on Praise And Thanksgiving in prayer,

  21. Angela

    Thank You so much for this wonderful article. May the Lord bless you. I will be using some of your write up for our Sunday school bulletin. Thank you so much once again.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you found the article helpful. Thanking and praising the Lord are a vital part of the Christian life. Giving thanks causes us to be filled with Christ in our spirit (Eph. 5:18-20). Praising our Lord elevates us above our problems and identifies us with Him as the One Who has won the victory over the enemy and every negative thing (Heb. 12:2; 13:15). May the Lord bless you as you share His Word with others.

  22. Michael Fabuda

    Great teaching with simplicity. More grace to the writer.

    1. Tom Smith


      Glad that you enjoyed the post. As believers, we often forget that our prayer to the Lord should be matched with our thanks and praise. Such a practice elevates our prayer, fills us in spirit (Eph. 5:18-20) and enables to watch in our prayer (Col. 4:2)

      Much grace


  23. Edgar Hovhannisyan

    Regardless of our situation or what we’re going through, Christ is a marvelous and glorious One who is worthy to be praised! Thaaank YOU, LORD! Praaaies YOU, LORD!!

    1. Tom Smith

      We need to thank our Lord Jesus for all He’s done for us–loving us, dying for us, saving us, filling and transforming us. But, we need to go on to praise Him for who He is–the complete, eternal God, the perfect, sinless Man, the firstborn of all creation and the firstborn in resurrection, the Head of the Body, our ascended High Priest, the indwelling life-giving Spirit, the One with the name above every name in the universe…and so much more. What a Christ!

  24. Madison Madison

    Wow! I can’t believe this is my first time hearing this. “To thank the Lord is to thank Him for the things that He’s done for us and provided for us….When we praise the Lord, we praise Him for who He is and what He’s done apart from what He’s done for us.” So simple, yet enlightening!

    1. Tom Smith

      Madison, Yes, we should thank Him for what He has done, but we should go further to praise Him for who He is. Appreciating the Lord for who He is elevates us to another realm and causes us to be transformed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18).

  25. Sarda Perera

    I have no words to express my feeling of gratitude for this opportunity [that our Almighty God has planned/predestined even BEFORE my birth/ conceiving in my mother’s womb/creation of the universe] God has given me to to come across to know exactly the value of PRAISING Him as same will definitely the start of my mission of spreading the GOOD NEWS.
    Lord!, please use me as a Robot with the control in your precious hand since my wish is to walk in fellowship with you like Enoch and Noah.
    Let my Praise will not cease until the moment I leave this world! in accordance with your plan for me.

    1. Tom Smith

      Sarda, our thanks and praise to the Lord usher us into fellowship with Him (Psa. 100:4). It is good to thank the Lord for dying for us, for shedding His blood for our sins (Eph. 1:7). When we come to the Lord, we need to confess our sins to Him and ask Him to cleanse us (1 John 1:7-9). We should praise the Father for His selection and thank Him for choosing us for His purpose (Eph. 1:4-5). We should thank the Lord for all that He has done and is doing in saving us. We should also praise Him for His wondrous works–becoming a man, living a perfect, sinless human life, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead. We should also praise and worship our God for Who He is. He is love and He is light. He is the eternal life (1 John 5:20). The more we practice to thank, praise and worship the Lord in this way, the more we are filled with faith and love for Him. Yes, may we praise Him as long as we have breath (Psa 150:6)

      But Sarda, the Lord wants you to be more than a lifeless robot, but His newborn child filled with His divine life and a member of Christ’s living Body, living in one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). Just call on Him moment by moment to enjoy Him as your spiritual breath and drink (Rom. 10:12-13; John 20:22; John 7:37-38)

  26. honnesty

    It helped me as I prepare Sunday service message today Dec 8,2014.thanks

    1. Tom Smith

      May the Lord lead you and those with whom you meet into a deeper appreciation for the Lord Jesus by thanking Him for all His marvelous doings and by praising Him for Who He is.

  27. Praise the Lord means we recognize Christ is our Lord..

    1. Tom Smith

      That’s right! Enlightened praise to the Lord Jesus is with the realization of Who He is. Our Lord Jesus is both the eternal God and the perfect Man. He is our Redeemer, Savior and the Eternal Life. He is our exalted Lord, reigning over the entire universe. May we give Him the praise and worship He is seeking.

  28. Susie

    Sometimes when I am praising the Lord, it appears as though I am actually giving thanks to Him. While reading Ephesians 1:3-14, I know that I have thanked Him for some of these mighty works, but now I see that I should have praised Him. I praise Father God for His good and faithful servants who are faithful in teaching His Word and I thank Him for leading me to your post. To God be the glory for enlightening me through your post on “Praise and Thanksgiving”. I certainly hope that my comments demonstrate that I am learning the difference.

    1. Tom Smith

      When we are in fellowship with the Lord both thanks and praise flow out and even flow together spontaneously. For our understanding, it helps to have an uplifted appreciation for meaning of each. Then both thanks and praise can become the channel through which we have finer fellowship with God. Initially, we may begin by thanking Him for all His benefits toward us–for our life, health, family, etc. We may also thank Him for choosing us, calling us, saving us, regenerating us, and transforming us into His image. But gradually, we need to be brought deeper to appreciate the Lord for Who He is and what He is. We can praise Him as the very God who became flesh, who died and resurrected and became the indwelling Christ as the Spirit in our spirit and so much more. We praise Him for His wisdom, His love, His holiness and righteousness, and so much more. The more you practice, the more you’ll taste the difference. Thanks for the comment

    2. Ayotomide

      Without exaggeration, my eyes can now see n my heart understood the clear difference in thanking and praising God after 26 yrs of meeting Christ. Glory to God

      1. Tom Smith

        How precious! Starting the day with thanks and praise to the Lord Jesus will usher you into His presence for fellowship and help you to be filled in your spirit with His Spirit (Eph. 5:18-20). Thanks for your comment.

  29. Hello, and thank you for confirming the difference between thanksgiving and praise unto our God! Yes, He alone is WORTHY to be praised…

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you found the post helpful. In my experience, I can always thank the Lord when I don’t know what to pray. But having given Him our thanks we need to go deeper to praise Him for Who He is. This really elevates our enjoyment of Christ. Thanks for the comment.

  30. Dee Washington

    I enjoyed reading this and has helped me in my Christian walk. I had asked this in a recent bible class, because in my heart I felt I was not praising God although I thank god each and every day as I go about my day and in prayer life, I never really praised his holy name in my prayer life – so thank you for this article – Our lord is worthy to be praised for who he is! Alleluiah

    1. Tom Smith

      Dee, Glad you enjoyed reading the article and found it helpful in your Christian walk. I believe that even most seeking Christians only thank God for His blessings to them. However, to advance in our life with the Lord we need to learn to praise Him for Who He IS, regardless of any outward blessing. He is worthy to be praised. One helpful practice is to turn any Bible verses that reveal aspects of Christ into a praise to Him. For example, if we’re reading the gospel of John, we might praise the Lord as the eternal Word of God: “Lord, I praise You that You are the eternal Word. You define, explain and express God so that we can see God in You. Praise You Lord, that as the Word You became flesh…” Thank you for the comment.

  31. Joe

    That was great, I’m teaching Sunday school and that’s very helpful

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you found the post helpful. Every believer should be helped to not only pray but match their prayer with real thanksgiving and praise. This kind of practice not only preserves but also uplifts our prayer life. Thanks for leaving the comment.

  32. Yaz

    Thanks for this explanation. I had a gist of what the difference was, but this has taken me farther along. I will be giving more thanks and praise from this day on.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you found the post helpful. May this view uplift your enjoyment of the Lord from thanks to praise. It’s easy to begin with thanks and then as the prayer flows, go higher to praise the Lord for all He is. Thanks for your confirming comment.

  33. Vick

    Hi, I have a quick question: what’s the difference between praise and worship?

    1. Tom Smith

      Praise and worship are closely related and overlap. However, to my sense, I would say that worship is higher form of praise. We can praise God for who He is and what He has done. We can praise Him for His great salvation and His mighty acts. However, to my apprehension, worship focuses primarily on His Person. He is the eternal One, who is love and light, holy and righteous. Not only does He love; He is love. His greatness, newness, faithfulness are all worthy of our worship. Hope this helps. For more appreciation for worship, you might want to check out hymnal.net and look at all the subcategories of hymns on the Worship of the Father. Thanks for your comment.

  34. Diane

    I didn’t understand the difference and struggled with this all the time, but after reading this , I can now say , I understand, Praise God!!!!!

    1. Tom Smith

      I’m glad the post helped to clear up your understanding. Actually both thanks and praise are both an excellent way to usher us into the Lord’s presence for fellowship. Psalms 100:4 tells us to, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving; His courts with praise…” We can simply begin by thanking the Lord for whatever arises in our hearts—a new day, the air we breathe, our family and for saving us. Then, as we continue our fellowship, we may begin to praise Him for who He is and His great purpose. He is our God, our Savior, our life and so much more. He chose us, redeemed us and is transforming us to His image Yes, praise Him!!


    God You are good indeed (I praise You). Thank you God for your faithfulness this far.

    1. Tom Smith

      Amen. God is really faithful and we praise Him for His faithfulness. Here is a deep hymn praising God for His faithfulness. You can see the lyrics here. You can listen to the tune or singing of it here here. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Terri Adams

    “When we praise the Lord, we praise Him for who He is and what He’s done apart from what He’s done for us.“
    (Again regarding reasons for praising Him)
    “These are all marvelous aspects of who Christ is–apart from any benefit to us.”
    With much appreciation, I thank you for these 2 specific quotes which have helped me define the difference between thanking & praising God.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you you found this post helpful. Both thanking and praising enable us to draw near to God (Psalm 100:4). Thanksgiving brings us through the gate and praise ushers us into His courts–deeper into His presence for fellowship. Let His Spirit lead you to thank and praise Him in a fresh way every day. Thanks for sharing in a comment.

  37. Danielle

    Thank you so much!!! I didn’t realize there was a difference between thanking and praising!! This definitely adds to my prayer life and different routines!!

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. We may begin by thanking the Lord for all He has done for us. Then as we advance, we progress from the gift to the Giver.
      That is, we not only appreciate His doings. We delight in the Lord Himself. We appreciate Him, love Him, and worship Him for who He is. Our Lord is the reality of every positive thing. Christ is wisdom to us from God—righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). Here is a hymn that includes many wonderful items of who Christ is for our praise. You can also listen to it here. Thanks for the comment.

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