I have been spending a lot of time in the writings of C.S. Lewis and Judson Cornwall. Both writers have truly transformed my understanding of praise and worship.
If you’ve been reading The Felicity Bee for a while, you know that praise and worship is a very large part of my life. I have led worship for many years, and I find that being behind the piano in worship or writing music is one of my favorite places to be.
There is such power in praise. Books can be written about the authority that comes when we praise the Lord.
Praise is a part of us.
The roar of the crowd when their team wins the Big Game. The cheers at the dining room table as you take the Scrabble championship. The thunderous applause as the orchestra performs the symphonies finale. The mom and dad cheering wildly as their son takes his bow as Rock #2 in the Kindergarten play. The tears and exuberant “YES” as he asks her to be his wife.
Praise is inherent in each and every one of us. It is something we were created to do.
Life is Full of Praise.
Parents praise their kids. Grandparents praise them more. Teachers praise their students. Coaches praise their teams. Praise is something we were born with deep in our spirit-man. It is an integral part of life. We praise what we value. We praise what we support. We praise what we love.
But what about our praises to God?
Most would agree that He is what we love and value the most. So why is it so difficult for so many of us to praise Him? In Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis writes that praise is “inner health made audible”. Isn’t that beautiful?
PRAISE IS INNER HEALTH MADE AUDIBLE.
For those with a healthy spiritual life, praise is natural. It easily flows from the heart of one who has a relationship with God. For others, “religious training”, lack of understanding, fear of embarrassment, and pride inhibit the spirit-man from thriving in health - causing praise to be silenced.
“I wonder if we’d ever get so excited over Jesus, and what He’s done for us, that we’d have to release the pressure of excitement in shouts of praise.” - Judson Cornwall in Let Us Praise.
Four Truths About the Power of Praise.
In this article, let’s look at four truths about the power of praise. Of course, there are many more! Books could be and have been written about the power of our praise. But for the sake of this article, let’s focus on four truths that will encourage you as your inner health become audible.
1. Praise Gives Us Access to God.
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise”. This verse refers to Moses’ Tabernacle in the wilderness. The Tabernacle was divided into three parts. The Outer Court, The Inner Court, and The Holy of Holies where God dwelled.
There was only one gate - one entrance - into The Outer Court. If you wanted to approach God, you had to go through the gate, into the courtyard, and finally into The Holy of Holies.
(In the days of Moses, only the High Priest could enter into The Holy of Holies. It was not accessible to everyone. However, when our Great High Priest died (Hebrews 4:14-16), the veil to The Holy of Holies was torn allowing US access to God. Hallelujah!)
The gate you come through to approach God is thanksgiving and the court you enter is praise. Psalm 100:4 should be so much more meaningful in light of its historical context.
It pains me to see people skip the praise and worship portion of a service. Worse yet, I’ve led worship in conferences where the Pastor or visiting speaker would skip out on worship, and show up at the very end just in time to speak.
Praise and worship is not the opening act to the Pastor's message! Praise softens the soil of your heart so the seeds of the message can be planted.
To have direct access to God, it is essential to come through praise.
Make It Personal.
How can you incorporate praise into your every day life giving you access to God? You can turn on praise music while you clean the house, while you are in the car, while you are cooking in the kitchen, while you are sitting by the pool.
You can praise Him before your prayer or Bible Study time. You can sing to Him before you pray. You can praise Him before you open your Bible. You can turn on praise music as you are driving to church. Till up the soil of your heart with praise, and then allow God to plant His words into fresh soil.
2. Praise Changes You.
Leading worship, I have seen a lot from the platform. I’ve seen the hardest of hearts melt. I’ve seen repentance. I’ve seen friendship restored and marriages heal. I’ve seen children coming back to their parents, and parents return to their children.
Praise can change you if you allow it to.
Praise changes relationships. It changes hearts. It changes mindsets. In praise, our focus shifts from us to the Lord. From problems to The Solution. From pain to promise. From hurt to hope.
Proverbs 27:21 says, “As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” Judson Cornwall says it this way in Let Us Praise. "So often, when we have heated our Spirits in worship . . . thoughts, desires, and attitudes rise to the surface.”
As we are broken and heated in the presence of the Lord, those negative attitudes rise to the surface of our hearts. We are then able to bring them to Jesus to be forgiven and cleansed.
I often visit Colonial Williamsburg. It is one of my favorite vacation spots. Steven’s favorite trade shop is the silversmith. On our last visit, we watched the tradesman pour the melted silver into molds. I couldn’t help but notice the silver before and after the fires touch. Before it hits the fire, the silver is rugged. It is hard. It is jagged. Once the fire begins the work of melting away the jagged pieces, the silver becomes pliable and smooth. You can almost see yourself in the melted silver. The silver becomes like a mirror. Only then is it able to be molded.
In the fires of praise, God reaches out and melts down our jagged edges until we become smooth and pliable in His hands. Only then can we be molded into His image. We become so smooth and clear that when others look at us - when we look at ourselves, we see a mirror reflecting the image of Jesus.
Make It Personal.
Do you feel like you are always being heated? Your jagged edges are constantly being worked on? Every worship service turns into tears at the altar?
That is okay, my friend. Be patient. God is working to purify you into His image. Let Him do His work. Let go of everything you are holding onto that doesn’t look like Him. Remember, you are growing, you are changing, you are being molded! Keep praising until the work is done!
3. Praise is a relationship. It is not a ritual.
Psalm 81:10 says, “I am the Lord, YOUR God . . .”. Isn’t it wonderful to know that He is ours and we are His? Praise brings us into a closer relationship with Jesus.
I love Exodus 25:8. God tells Moses to build a sanctuary that “I may dwell among them”. He didn’t want a cathedral shining with jewels to show His awesomeness. He didn’t ask for massive monuments or statues made of gold.
God asked for a simple tent. It wasn’t about the structure. It was about the relationship. He wanted a tabernacle just so He could be with us. That brings such tears to my eyes. The God of all of the earth could be anywhere, could have anything, could do anything, and yet He chooses to be with you, dear friend.
I’ve been in the most beautifully structured churches. They are gorgeous to look at, but the Spirit of the Lord is no where to be found. I’ve sat in simple living rooms with a handful of saints, and the presence of God is so strong it is tangible.
God doesn't want anything to dwell in but us. He wants relationship with us. That relationship comes through praise.
The problem comes in when ritual takes the place of pure praise. A.W. Tozer said, “Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” In 1962, Tozer grieved, “It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”
Oh Lord, forgive us.
How true are Tozer’s words fifty-five years later. On one hand, you have modern “praise and worship” movements that at a quick glance looks more like a rock concert than a worship service. We “praise” the singers of the songs more than The One we are singing about. Lasers, fog machines, and video displays have taken the place of a humble altar and even humbler hearts.
Now understand me, there always must be balance. I love The Theatrical Arts! I own my own theater! But when churches alter their worship services to “fit in” with the culture of the day, it ceases to become worship. When our praise and worship becomes ritualistic in how it is displayed, it becomes less and less about relationship with The Father.
On the absolute other hand, you have “religion” which has dictated why, where, and how we should worship including a list of do’s and don’ts. Most churches strictly abide by a “three fast songs, two slow songs” pattern that leaves no room for God to move. There is no relationship, just man-made religion.
Can God move in the lasers, fog machines, and electric guitars? Of course. Can God move in the rituals of our worship? Of course, He can do whatever He wants to do. He is God. I am not arguing how you should praise. I am stating that if your cultural rituals replace relationship, it no longer becomes praise. True praise doesn’t come from modern culture or a rigid religious system. True praise comes from relationship with Jesus.
He inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3). He dwells in, lives in, and abides in our praise. My dear friends, He just wants a relationship with you.
Make It Personal.
Any relationship needs communication. Our relationship with Christ needs communication. Talk to Him, my friend. Don’t utter a laundry list of “I need and I want”. Instead, like you would to your spouse, children, or best friend . . . tell Him through your praise how wonderful He is. Tell Him that you thank Him for saving you. Tell the Lord that He is worthy. Then, give Him a chance to talk back to you!
4. Praise defeats the enemy.
The first mention of praise in the Bible is at the birth of Jacob’s son, Judah, in Genesis 29:35. Judah means praise. No matter where you see the name Judah in the Bible, it always means praise.
Revelation 5:5 tells us that our Lord Jesus, The Lion of the Tribe of Praise (Judah) has overcome! So many of us walk around in fear of the enemy. Whether it is “the devil” you fear, your own thoughts, or your next door neighbor, we often walk around fearing our enemy and what he/she could do to us.
I don’t often speak about the devil at The Felicity Bee. Why give him platform? I also believe he has no power except what we give him.
Non-priases often worry about their enemy who walks around AS a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8). As I mentioned in THIS article, the enemy walks AS a roaring lion. He is an imposter. He has no power.
Praisers know that their Lion of the Tribe of Judah is the real thing and He has already overcome every single enemy that may come in their path.
In the historical books of the Bible, Judah is always performing. He is always moving. (Judson Cornwall, LET US PRAISE) In Judges 1:1-2 we read, “Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.” God told PRAISE to go in first to the enemy. Praise entered the battle first.
In 2 Chronicles 20:21, King Jehoshaphat “appointed singers unto the Lord, that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.” The choir and the orchestra went ahead of the warriors! It worked. The enemies were defeated and Judah never even had to take out their swords!
How many battles do we needlessly fight; drawing our swords of worry, our shields of fear, and our words of war? What would happen if we simply trusted that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has already won the battle?
What would happen in our lives if we put away our warring words, and lifted our voices in praise?
Judson Cornwall said, “Saints who would learn to do battle for the Lord should first learn how to praise, for God sends praise as the shock troops to drive the enemy back before the rest of the army is allowed to join the battle.” (Let us Praise, pg. 44-45)
Make It Personal.
Dear Friend, what are you battling today? Fear? An unsaved spouse? A co-worker? Your kids? Your weight? Your self-defeating thoughts?
Try this, instead of battling in your own power, put on an amazing praise song and start singing! Sing over your situation. Sing over your spouse, your kids, your fear, and your thoughts! Rejoice over your life, and lift up an encouraging praise.
PRAISE DEFEATS THE ENEMY.
We could write a hundred more pages about the truths of the power of praise, but these four offer us a start into why praise should be a part of our everyday life. Praise gives us access to God. It changes us from the inside out causing us to be a reflection of our father. Praise is about relationship with our creator, and not just ritual. Praise defeats our enemies and brings us closer to God’s will for our lives.
Lift up a mighty praise today! Lift up a shout of joy! God lives in your praise, dear friend. Let Him live in you by offering Him all your praise.
Have you thought about the Power of Praise? What are some other truths that God has revealed to you about the power behind our praise? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.