1 Shout for joy to the LORD , all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
- Psalm 100:1-5 (NIV)
PRAISE is a vital component of our Christian walk. It is as essential as prayer, as important as studying His word. It is in praise to God that we open our hearts wide to the Lord and express our love, gratitude and awe for Him.
Yet, for some, praise can be difficult. It can become nothing more than a dry, monotone rendering of an old hymn at church, or a scripted recitation during a church service. Don't misunderstand me, I am not knocking old hymns and responsorial readings. What I'm saying is, we have to put our hearts into it! When we meaningfully express love and reverence for God, it becomes praise. When we only read aloud from a page or numbly follow along with hymn #203 in the red hymnal (first and third verses), it's nothing more than burnt-toast offerings - dry, bitter and crumby.
PRAISE TURNS OUR FOCUS
"But I don't really feel like praising..."
That is precisely the time when we should be praising the loudest! When we're down in the dumps, head hung low, feeling blue - that is the ideal time to praise.
Praise turns our focus. Often when we're burdened with troubles or sorrow, our focus gets stuck inward. We gaze at our problems and focus on ourselves. It's like driving past an auto accident. You know you shouldn't look, but you do anyway. And the shock of it can cause your eyes to be riveted on the wreck. The same goes for our lives. When we suffer a setback, or a tragedy, or a hardship, the eyes of our souls can become glued on that problem.
Praise breaks our eyes free from the wreckage, and turns them toward healing! Praise puts the focus where it belongs: squarely on God.
PRAISE IS SPIRITUAL ANTI-VENOM
What keeps a person from praising God? Often it's pride.
Pride is one of the great deceits in the devil's bag of tricks. If he can convince us that people will view us as freaks for raising our hands to the Lord, or shouting and singing in praise, then he wins. Satan doesn't want us praising God because he knows praise is a key to unlocking the door to the Lord. Praise is direct communication of admiration to God. Praise is what takes our focus off us, off our troubles, off the things of this life that hold us down. It's a powerful weapon God has given us.
And the devil doesn't like it.
So, we must never let satan dump feelings of self consciousness on us about praise. Go ahead and let it fly! No where in the Bible is there a verse that reads, "Thou shalt be stoic in all thy praise. Thou countenance shalt be as sawdust. Blessed be the man who keeps his soul as dry as the sand, thus sayeth the Lord."
When that serpent, the devil, draws back to bite, we have the anti-venom against his strike when we praise God!
GOD INHABITS PRAISE!
It's little wonder the devil works so hard to keep us down, and keep us from praising God. If he can keep us out of the courts of God, he can keep us from experiencing the Lord. He can keep us from victory, and healing, and all of God's benefits.
Psalm 100:4-5 tells us to enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. It is in true, heartfelt praise to the Lord that we enter into His presence, because God inhabits praise! The Lord wants our hearts turned toward Him. When we have our eyes focused on God, and not on the shiny objects the devil keeps flashing at us to avert our gaze, we see all the Lord has done and is doing. We see the victory we've received. We see the God who is on our side, who loves us, who fills us.
PRAISE IS A REMINDER
Praise absolutely blots out the garbage the devil wants in front of our faces. Praise reminds us that God has taken care of our every need, and blessed our lives richly.
Praise reminds us of all God's benefits. In Psalm 103, David praised God for all those benefits: forgiveness of all sins, healing of all diseases, redemption of our lives instead of destruction, filling with God's love and compassion, and a satisfying life. He is slow to anger, and loves us immeasurably. The 103rd psalm is an awesome passage of praise to our Almighty Lord.
"You who fear the LORD , praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!" - Psalm 22:23 (NIV)
Praise Him with all your heart and strength. Praise Him for what He has done, what he doing, and what He will do.
Praise Him just because he is God.
Praise Him in your own way. You can sing, you can dance, you can shout,... do whatever you want to please God! Just praise Him in your own special way. And forget what others may think of you. Let them eat their burnt toast - you go feast on God's manna!
"Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise him!" - Psalm 64:10 (NIV)
"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD: - Psalm 150:6 (NIV).
(c) 2003 by Chris & Jennie Courtney. All rights reserved.