Baruch She’amar 5: Mabit
The Beit Elokim of the Mabit:
A person should begin his praise by praising his Creator. As Rabbi Simlai taught in the Talmud in Berachot, first one should organize one’s praise of God, and only afterwards, pray. As it is written, ‘First Moses praised God, and then Moses asked.’
The Mabit says that this seems pretty funny. I walk over to somebody. I say, “Ted, you’re one of the nicest people I know. Could you lend me a hundred dollars?” Does something sound wrong to you? Yet we say that you can’t pray unless you do that. “God, you’re the greatest. Can I have a new car?” Or, “God, I love you, you’re so powerful. Can you send me some extra money?” Isn’t that basically what we’re saying? Something seems screwy!
Therefore, the Mabit explains that when you praise another human being, there is always going to be an element of exaggeration, because no being is perfect. When you praise God, you’re reminding yourself that God has the ability to answer your prayers. You’re not allowed to sing praises that are not specific to the needs you are requesting, says the Mabit. If I begin singing a whole list of praises to God, and they have nothing to do with what I am requesting from God, then basically what I’m saying is that I want to praises God. But you cannot just praise God. God is infinite. The praise is simply to remind us, to attune us to which power of God I am addressing when I am making my requests.