Ron Kangas on progressing in our experience through four levels of praise:
We need to advance through four levels in our experience of praise. These levels are all necessary and valid.
1) Praising God for what He gives
The first level involves praising the Lord for what He gives, whether it is something spiritual or something practical in His care for us. We should praise the Lord for giving us a spouse who loves us. We should praise Him for bringing us together and for blessing our courtship. What can be more precious than the Lord giving us a counterpart? Surely, this is deserving of our praise. We should not be so spiritual as to think that this arrangement is not transcendent enough. In marriage there are many opportunities to experience the Lord’s transcendence. May our young people be saved from this thankless generation with its feeling of entitlement and learn to thank the Lord for what He gives.
2) Praising God for what He does
As we ascend to the second level of praise, we will learn to praise the Lord for what He does. Although He is very active, much of what He does is hidden. Even though we may not be initially aware of His actions, they will become manifest at some point in time. At such a time, He will surely be deserving of our praise, especially if His actions come at a cost to another member of the Body.
3) Praising God for what He is
When we ascend to the third level, we will begin to praise the Lord for what He is. In John 11 the Lord was the resurrection life. When He heard that Lazarus was sick, He did nothing. Even though Lazarus’s sisters tried to manipulate Him to come quickly to intervene by sending some to say, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (v. 3), the Lord did not come quickly. When He arrived at the house in Bethany, He was greeted with opinions: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21). Martha wanted Him to be the God of prevention, but He wanted to be the God of resurrection.
This does not mean that we need to be “heroes” and look for troubling situations. When Paul experienced a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7), he did not say, “Enemy, is that the biggest thorn you have?” Instead, he entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from him (v. 8).
The focus of Mary and Martha was on what the Lord could do, but what the Lord does is based on what He is. We may want Him to “raise someone from the dead,” which He may eventually do, but He wants us to realize what He is. He wants us to treasure what He is above what He does. If we are ill and He heals us, we will praise Him, thank Him, and testify of Him. But will we praise Him even if He does not heal us? We have to overcome the part of our being that wants things done for us. If we value the Lord more for what He is than what He does for us, we will grow. We should not remain so small. As our sense of spiritual value develops, we will praise the Lord for what He is. This is a realm of unlimited praise because He is all-inclusive; He is all in all. For example, we can praise Him for being the Shepherd and not only for His shepherding. There is, however, another level that we need to experience.
4) Praising God that He is
We need to see that God is above everything and that He is worthy of our praise (Psa. 18:3; 1 Chron. 29:10-13; Rev. 4:1-3, 10-11; 5:6, 9-13). Although we should praise the Lord for what He gives, for what He does, and for what He is, we should also praise Him simply because He is. We can see this through our human relationships. Are we not glad just for the fact that certain people are alive because their mere existence is a blessing to us? Such ones do not have to give us anything, they do not have to do anything for us, and they do not even need to be something particular to us. Instead, they just are, and we are so thankful. Our deepest sense of loss occurs simply when they are not with us. In this regard, the Hallelujah psalms [Psalms 146-150] speak of Jehovah, who is the I Am, praising Him simply as the self-existing and ever-existing God.
—The Ministry of the Word, 16.1:330-332