If you’re a Christian you’ve almost certainly been in a setting where it was time to praise God, and if you’ve been in that situation, you’ve definitely had times where you didn’t want to.
Maybe you’re tired, maybe you’re angry, or maybe you just don’t want to look weird. Well I want to encourage you today, friends, we all feel these ways sometimes. I don’t know another Christian alive who hasn’t had one of these thoughts even though we all know intellectually that we shouldn’t. I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last; it can be tough.
Why we praise
Countless times through the Bible we see examples of people praising and countless verses declaring the goodness of God.
Perhaps the most succinct summation of the ‘why’ can be found in Ephesians, where Paul writes “Let us praise God for His glorious grace, for the free gift He gave us all in His dear Son!” (Ephesians chapter 1 verse 5, Good News Translation), meaning that God’s love is well worth it; we praise to thank Him.
But we also praise because it feels good, because it frees us, because when the weight of the world feels like it’s pressing you down sometimes just shouting to God can put hope back in your heart. Praise makes the enemy flee, because when we do it, when our hearts and minds are completely set on His goodness, the adversary has absolutely no hold on our lives, it just can’t seem to get a grip.
There’s something supernatural about it… Praise (and prayer) causes things to happen that wouldn’t have happened had you not done so. Take Paul and Silas for example, when they were locked up together in Acts chapter 16 they prayed and “sang praises unto God”. Suddenly a great earthquake set their hands loose and opened the doors.
Obviously, God could have done this whenever He pleased, yet He did it when Paul and Silas first sought Him. While it’s not a hard and fast rule - stuff can still supernaturally happen without it - clearly praise engenders a response.
Bring a sacrifice
I find myself greatly moved by one of Planetshakers’ new songs lately, titled Move out of my way, in which they sing “’Cause I am here to lift His name, and bring a sacrifice of praise, ‘cause he has been so good to me.”.
As we already discussed, sometimes it can be hard to praise, but I think those are the best moments to praise and to push in. These are the moments when our sacrifices are greatest, when our praise means the most and when our lives are most in need of change.
Sometimes it hurts; sometimes it feels strange, sometimes it’s the last thing we can imagine… That’s why it’s a sacrifice. That’s why God loves it. That’s why we have to do it. I wonder how different so many people’s lives would be had they just pushed their praise that tiny bit more, had they gone to that next level.
The music can be awesome, or it can be terrible, there can be great lights, or ‘interesting’ ones, and all of that can definitely help to create an atmosphere, but it’s no one else’s responsibility, only we as individuals can push our hearts and bring that sacrifice to get ourselves to that new level where God wants to meet us.
It's up to us
That’s right! Although God can meet us anywhere, He WANTS to meet us at the next level, He wants us to push harder, He wants us to bring a sacrifice or else there is no growth.
The other week I heard someone share their thoughts on modern praise, the likes of Planetshakers, and they said, ‘The lights are good, the music is good but Jesus isn’t there’. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I heard those fault-finding words and indeed it breaks my heart to hear so many Christians who can’t help but be critical of other Christians.
I could go on about the Unity of the body we so sorely need but what I want to say here to anyone else who may have thoughts along these lines is this; it’s all about the heart. I guarantee you these people with their big sounds and crazy light machines aren’t thinking “We’re gonna do a cool show and we don’t need Jesus”: their goal is not to just have a show and be worshipped themselves, their goal is to celebrate Jesus.
Indeed if no one does the rocks themselves will (Luke Chapter 19, Verse 40). If you find yourself in a situation where you’re not quite able to get with the atmosphere the praise is trying to set, then that perhaps should be seen as an opportunity to bring a greater sacrifice of praise. Like I said, it’s about the heart, and so when you’re struggling more and more to get your heart there it just provides greater opportunity to praise and worship more fully.
It’s worth it. I guarantee you that. Lives change, hearts heal, minds are restored, all because we praise Him. There’s something supernatural about it, about when we bring that sacrifice, that shifts the natural and shifts the supernatural.
So the next time you’re in a situation where the criticisms are overflowing in your mind – I can tell you that’s normal – I want to encourage you, friends, that it can be the greatest opportunity to see something amazing happen. I know it can be tough, and I know we can do it. Come on, Believers, bring a sacrifice of praise.
Josiah Gray lives in Logan City, Australia. He is currently studying teaching at Christian Heritage College and is committed to telling the story of Jesus to the next generation.
Josiah’s previous articles can be found at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josiah-gray.html