Most folks reading this have no doubt praised God at various points in their lives. Many are worship leaders in local churches and involved in some “ministry” capacity. However, it may serve us well to be reminded of a few basic points and biblical truths in regard to the power of praise. This is coming more from the personal angle although it can be applied to the corporate as well.
The last article focused on worship. We must realize that true worship is more an issue of the heart, humility, and giving reverence to the One we call "Lord." By definition, music may or may not be a part of the true worship experience.
Frequently, throughout Scripture, praise involves singing, celebration, and song.
Let’s focus on one of the many examples of the power of praise.
"But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed" (Acts 16:25).
We see Paul and Silas were bound in chains and locked in the inner prison. At midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God. We are not told how long they sang songs, but at some point, a great earthquake occurred; the foundations were shaken, prison doors were opened, and chains were broken.
The verse refers to this happening, “SUDDENLY.” The Bible offers several such examples of amazing things taking place in response to the people of God praising Him in song. I am reminded of the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and the victory won by Jehoshaphat as Judah (praise) went before the army (2 Chronicles 20).
Many are yet bound with chains today, even held in prison to varying degrees. It was at the darkest time of night, midnight, when SUDDENLY God’s power was unleashed, and the captives were set free.
You may be struggling with some form of bondage in your own life. Churches are often filled with people who are imprisoned by powers of darkness, addiction, depression, etc. God desires to set His people free, and we can experience that “suddenly” moment when night gives birth to a new day.
We simply must begin to praise God in the midst of darkness, fear, and pain.
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15).
There are times when the last thing we feel like doing is giving praise to God. However, if we offer Him our sacrifice, the fruit of our lips, giving Him thanks, the Lord will act SUDDENLY and release supernatural power to break chains of bondage, open prison doors, and grant us lasting freedom. And who knows what other lives may be impacted as a result! I would encourage you to read the rest of the story in Acts 16.
Over the years much has been said and written in regard to the issue of worship. Even Jesus spoke about the Father seeking those who would “worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”
Read what our Lord said to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well:
“…You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:22-24).
There are a few important points to be taken from this passage. Jesus made it clear that “we know what we worship.”
Consider the opposite . . .
Acts 17 gives a clear example of intelligent people paying homage to a god they did not know. As Apostle Paul traveled through Athens, he came upon an altar erected with the inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Keep in mind; this was done in the midst of an educated population. The people of Greece took great pride in academia.
Now let’s reflect back on Jesus’ encounter with the woman. The Lord said that the Samaritans really did not know what or who they worshiped. He went on to say that the people of God have knowledge of—and are intimately acquainted with—the One they worshiped.
Jesus continued, “…true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth.” God is a spirit. Therefore, true worship is a spiritual experience.
It might serve us well to understand what worship is. By definition, it is not music, although music can be a result of the experience. Rather, worship is more about the condition of the heart. Whether we look at Old or New Testament, worship involves paying homage (or to prostrate oneself). The example of “a dog licking his master’s hand” is found in the Strong’s Concordance. It involves adoration and reverence and is more an attitude of heart than of simply singing a song. Music is not found in the definition.
God, our Father, seeks this demonstration of inward brokenness and humility more than a song. Obviously, when we experience this inner work, or grace, it is commonly displayed with songs of love and adoration. It is best not to get the two confused. The outward manifestation is fruit of the inward transformation.
To sing songs without having experienced the work of grace is mere religion. We may just as well build an altar to an unknown god. Keep in mind; grace is not simply undeserved, unmerited favor. True grace involves “divine influence on the heart, the reflection in the life.”
True worship is the product of a heart surrendered to the Master. If we fail to lay prostrate in our hearts and give God reverence inwardly, we need not kneel or lay before Him in a false, religious act.
The Father seeks those that worship from a heart of love and devotion. May we be such a people.