“They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!”
Acts 16:23-26 23
This Bible passage begins with the unjust arrest and imprisonment of Paul and Silas. I can’t help but imagine that the atmosphere in that prison must have been depressing – more like a stench-ridden dungeon, and as if that wasn’t enough, they were severely battered and bruised.
Can you take a minute to just imagine that; imagine yourself in that situation. What would be your reaction to your circumstances?
In spite of the throbbing pain in their bodies and the disheartening atmosphere, at midnight Paul and Silas were heard praying and singing praises to God! What? What a strange sound this must have been to the other prisoners, who were used to only hearing the groans of those who had been beaten.
Then suddenly, there was an earthquake that shook the prison! The doors were flung open, and amazingly, the bonds of Paul, Silas, and EVERY other prisoner were released! What caused this mighty release of power?
The answer is PRAISE… choosing to praise is a powerful decision that has an incredible impact on our situations and circumstances.
1. Praise Elevates us into God’s Presence and Power
Paul and Silas knew the secret of how to lift their hearts above their troubles and enter into God’s presence, peace and power. Through praise and worship they provided a channel for God’s power to operate in their circumstances.
The Bible says that God inhabits in the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). In other words, God “dwells” in the atmosphere of His praise. This means that praise is not merely a reaction from coming into His presence – Praise is a vehicle of faith, which brings us into the presence and power of God!
Praise and worship is the “gate-pass” or the “key” which allows us to enter the sacredness of His glory. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4)
2. True Praise comes from Within
‘Praise’ means “to commend, to applaud or magnify.” For us believers, praise to God is an expression of worship, lifting-up and glorifying the Lord (giving worth to God). It is an expression of humbling ourselves and centering our attention upon the Lord with heart-felt expressions of love, adoration and thanksgiving.
There are many actions involved with praise to God — verbal expressions of adoration and thanksgiving, singing, playing instruments, shouting, dancing, lifting or clapping our hands. But true praise is not “merely” going through these motions. Genuine praise to God is a matter of humility and sincere devotion to the Lord from within. In John 4:23 we read, But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.
3. Praise to God is a Lifestyle
All too often, praise to God is something that many people leave at church, an event that happens only when they come together with other believers. However, praise should be a part of our lifestyle, inter-mingled as a part of our daily prayer-life.
At work, in the car, at home in bed, or anywhere; praise to the Lord brings the refreshing of the Lord’s presence, along with His power and anointing. Psalm 34:1, I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.
Praise is an expression of faith, and a declaration of victory! Praise is also a “sacrifice,” something that we offer to God, not just because we feel like it, but because we believe in Him and delight in Him.
4. Praise Sends the Enemy Running
Maybe it’s the inner-mongrel in me, but this one really gets me excited. Since God inhabits the praises of His people, we also realise that praise repels the presence of the enemy. The devil cannot stand to be near an atmosphere, which is filled with sincere worship and praise to God by humble and repentant hearts. He fears the power in the name of Jesus, so when we declare His praises, we are pushing back darkness. That there, just makes me want to get up and shout God’s praises right now!
When God’s people begin to praise His name, it sends the enemy running! I challenge you to become a person of praise, and you will experience the release of the power of God!
Praise & “Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God. “ – Eugene Peterson
This year, let’s re-look at how we individually and as a team praise our God. We are focusing on FINDING OUR AUTHENTIC SOUND. As we offer up our authentic praise & worship that He alone deserves, I like to think that He will smile and utter “that’s what I have been waiting for”.
There is a sound that as individuals, we carry, which has never been heard before – let’s believe for it, pray for it, pursue it, and be authentic!
What is the sound people are hearing from our house? Is it genuine? Is it from within? Is it repelling the enemy? Is it bringing others on the journey? Is it breaking chains off people’s lives?
God is waiting for us to be brave and to step out beyond the shore. That is where we will find ourselves totally reliant on Him. That is where we will find our unique God-given sound. Let’s each decide to ‘do praise & worship differently’ in 2015, even if that means going beyond our comfort zones – let’s do it scared and see what God does.
Written by Katie Swift
Creative Team Leader