I used to hurry into the church twenty minutes late on Sunday morning. By the time I found a seat and settled into it, the worship and praise time was over and the pastor was preaching. I wasn’t concerned about this because I was there for the teaching. Yet my mind wandered everywhere and didn’t settle into the message until the sermon was half over.
On the days I arrived in plenty of time to get a seat before the service started and was a full participant through the entire worship time, I found I was open to receive the message as if God were speaking directly to me. My heart was made soft and receptive to what the Holy Spirit wanted to teach me because of the twenty or thirty minutes I had spent praising God. Negative attitudes I had come in with were melted away and replaced with ones more in alignment with what God desired. I was made ready and open to receive from God.
Worship invites God’s presence, and that’s where deliverance happens. Two men in prison were singing praises to God when suddenly the prison doors flew open and their chains fell off (Acts 16:26). In the spirit realm when we praise the Lord, the prison doors of our lives are opened, our bonds are broken, and we are set free. Praising God opens you to experience His love, and it will liberate you.
The Prayer of Praise Brings Healing and Transformation
The more time we spend praising the Lord, the more we will see ourselves and our circumstances grow in wholeness.
That’s because praise softens our hearts and makes them pliable. It also covers us protectively. The more the pliability and covering are maintained, the more quickly our hearts can be molded and healed.
Praise and worship of God are always acts of will. We have to will to praise God even when we don’t feel like it. Sometimes our problems or the burdens we carry choke out our good intentions, so we have to make the effort to establish praise as a way of life. And it becomes a way of life when we make it our first reaction to what we face and not a last resort. Now is the time to lift up a prayer of praise to God for everything in your life. Thank Him for His Word, His faithfulness, His love, His grace, His healing. Thank Him for what He has done for you personally. Keep in mind that whatever you thank the Lord for — peace, financial blessing, health, a new job, an end to depression — will start the process of its being released to you at that time.
In the Old Testament, the people who carried the Ark of the Covenant stopped every six steps to worship. We also have to remind ourselves not to go very far without stopping to praise and worship. For emotional healing and restoration, we have to be six-step persons and continually invite the presence of the Lord to rule in our situations.
The Prayer of Praise Aligns Us with God’s Purposes
Without praise we experience an eroding that leads to bondage and death. The Bible says,
Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. — Romans 1:21
With praise, you and your circumstances can be changed, because it gives God entrance into every area of your life and allows Him to be enthroned there.
So any time you struggle with negative emotions — such as anger, unforgiveness, fear, hurt, oppression, depression, self-hatred, or worthlessness — thank God that He is bigger than all that. Thank Him that His plans and purposes for you are good. Thank Him that in any weak area of your life, He will be strong. Thank Him that He came to restore you. Remember the names of the Lord, and use them in your prayer. “I praise You, Lord, because You are my Deliverer and Redeemer.” “Thank You, God, that You are my Healer and Provider.”
Once you align yourself with God’s purposes through praise, you can claim things that you can’t see yet in your life as though they were there. “Lord, I have absolutely no way to make my healing come about, but You are all- powerful and can make it happen. I thank You and praise You for Your healing power in my life.” Doing this is your greatest weapon against the feelings of inadequacy, purposelessness, and futility that can undermine all God has made you to be.
Remember: Praise lifts us powerfully into God’s presence and aligns us with His purposes.
The Prayer of Praise Defeats Criticism
There is another reason why the prayer of praise and thanksgiving is so vital to our walk with God. It crowds out criticism, which I discovered many years ago not only limits what God can do in my life but invites judgment back upon myself.
Let me explain. Those of us who have been abused as children often grow up to be judgmental and critical. Being torn down when we were young makes tearing someone else down to build ourselves up very appealing. We become unmerciful because we were not shown mercy.
Criticizing others quickly becomes a bad habit that can backfire. Constantly criticizing, even only in the mind, invites a critical spirit. When you have a spirit of criticism, your every thought and word is colored by it. You eventually become cynical and then completely unable to experience joy. You can be reading the Word, praying, and obeying and still not have peace and joy in your life because you are critical. Being critical of circumstances or conditions can be as detrimental as criticizing people, because it turns you into a grumbler and complainer — the type of person people generally like to avoid. It’s difficult to find the love and support you need when no one wants to be around you.
Mercy triumphs over judgment. — James 2:13
Criticism crowds love out of our hearts.
Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. — 1 Corinthians 13:2
Without love in our hearts we cannot grow emotionally, and we will always be at a standstill in our healing and development. But we can overcome a critical attitude by being constantly filled with the love of the Lord through prayerful praise and thanksgiving toward Him.
The Prayer of Praise Defeats Depression
The prayer of praise and thanksgiving can also lift you out of hopeless feelings of depression. One of the healthiest steps to take is to focus outwardly on God through praise. Stop everything you’re doing and say, “Lord, I praise You. I worship You. I give thanks to You. I glorify You. I love You.” Thanking Him for everything you can think of is the best way to stop the stream of self-abuse that goes through your head.
It says in God’s Word that “anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25). The good word that will truly make your heart glad comes from the Lord through His Word. When you pray the prayer of praise and thanksgiving, pray God’s Word. Find verses of Scripture that speak praise and say them out loud. When you find a promise or word from God that speaks to your situation, continually speak it aloud with thanksgiving; eventually your spirit and soul will respond to the hope and truth of God’s Word.
The Prayer of Praise Defeats Fear
Before I received Jesus, fear was the controlling factor of my life: fear of failure, of bodily harm, of being emotionally hurt, of getting old, of being a nobody. An aching, paralyzing, all-engulfing spirit of fear had overtaken me, bringing with it companion spirits of suicide, despair, anxiety, and hopelessness. As I fought to keep from drowning in my fears, I ran out of strength. Gradually my fear of life overrode my fear of death, and suicide seemed as if it would be a pleasant relief.
I have heard it said that F-E-A-R stands for: False Evidence Appearing Real
The devil presents false evidence and makes it seem real. We can choose to listen to his falsehoods or believe God. The prayer of praise is your greatest weapon against fear, so use it with great force. Clap your hands, sing, and speak praises to God. Thank Him for His great love. The more you do, the more you’ll open up to receive it. God’s love and fear cannot reside in the same heart!
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. — 1 John 4:18
No matter what has happened to you in the past or what’s happening in the world around you, God promises to protect you as you walk with Him now. In fact, He is committed to protecting you all the time. We don’t understand how much evil the Lord protects us from every day, but I’m sure it’s far more than we imagine.
He is more powerful than any adversary we face, and He promises that no matter what the enemy brings into our lives, we will triumph in it.
The only fear you are to have is the fear of God, a respect for God’s authority and power.
Fearing God means fearing what life without Him would be and thanking Him continually that, because of His love, you’ll never have to experience it.
Excerpted with permission from Seven Prayers That Will Change Your Life Forever by Stormie Omartian, copyright Stormie Omartian.
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Show of hands for those of us who occasionally walk into the worship service late? *raises hand* Me, too. I love that Stormie shared with us the power of our praise because we don’t want to miss out on the benefits of tuning our hearts into God to hear His Word, focus on His goodness, be healed and transformed, be aligned with His purposes for our lives, crush criticism, depression, and fear! Right? Let’s get in the praise zone, my friends! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about praise! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full