The Power in Praise
Jim’s father had been an alcoholic for thirty years. During all those years, Jim’s mother, and later Jim and his young wife, had prayed that God would heal him, but with no apparent result. Jim’s father refused to admit that he had a problem with alcohol, and stalked out in anger if anyone mentioned religion to him.
One day Jim heard me speak about the power that is released when we begin to praise God for everything in our lives instead of pleading with Him to change the circumstances that displease us.
Jim brought home a recording of my message and played it over and over again for his friends. Then one day it struck him; he had never tried praising God for his father’s condition. Excitedly he shared the thought with his wife.
“Honey, let us thank God for Dad’s alcoholism and praise the Lord that it is part of His wonderful plan for Dad’s life!”
For the rest of that day they gave thanks and praised God for every aspect of the situation, and by evening they felt a new sense of excitement and expectation.
The next day the parents came over for the usual Sunday dinner visit. Always before, Jim’s father had cut the visit as short as possible, leaving right after dinner. This time, over a cup of coffee, he suddenly asked a pointed question.
“What do you think about this Jesus Revolution?” He turned to Jim. “I saw something about it on the news last night. Is it just a fad, or is something happening to those kids who were hung up on drugs?”
The question led to a lengthy and open discussion about Christianity. The elder couple didn’t leave till late in the evening.
Within weeks Jim’s father came to admit his drinking problem, turned for help to Jesus Christ, and was completely healed. He now joins the rest of the family in telling others what praising God can do!
“Just think,” Jim said to me. “For thirty years we prayed for God to change Dad. We spent only one day praising Him for the situation and look what happened!”
To praise God is to express our acceptance of something that God is permitting to happen. So to praise God for difficult situations, as sickness or disaster, means literally that we accept its happening, as part of God’s plan to reveal His perfect love for us.
We can’t really praise God without being thankful for the thing we are praising Him for. And we can’t really be thankful unless we believe that an omnipotent, loving Father is working for our good. Praising, then, involves both gratitude and joy that God is keeping His Word to work good through everything if we love Him. (Romans 8:28)
The very fact that we praise God and not some unknown fate also means that we are accepting the fact that God is responsible for what is happening and will always make it work for our good. Otherwise it would make little sense thanking Him for it.
Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:6-18).
I’ve met many people who are able to praise God for their circumstances, simply because they accept the word of the Bible that they are supposed to praise God in everything. Praising Him, they soon experience the results of an attitude of consistent thanksgiving and joy; and in turn, their faith is strengthened, and they can continue to live this way.
Others find it a little more difficult.
“I just don’t understand,” they say, “I try praising God, but it is so hard for me to believe that He really has a hand in all the horrible things that have happened to me lately.”
We say we don’t understand, and some of us get stuck right there; our understanding becomes a real stumbling block in our relationship with God. But God has a perfect plan for our understanding, and when we use it His way, it isn’t a stumbling block, but a wonderful aid to our faith.
For God is the King of all the earth, said the psalmist. Sing praises in a skillful psalm and with understanding (Psalm 47:7 Amp).
We’re not supposed to push our understanding out of the way, grit our teeth, and say, “It doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ll praise the Lord if it kills me, if that’s the only way I can get out of this mess!”
That’s not praising, that’s manipulating. We’ve all tried to manipulate God, and it is wonderful to know that He loves us too much to let us get away with it! We are to praise God with our understanding, not in spite of it.
Our understanding gets us into trouble when we try to figure out why and how God brings certain circumstances into our lives. We can never understand why and how God does something, but He wants us to accept with our understanding that He does it. This is the basis of our praise. God wants us to understand that He loves us and that He has a plan for us.
And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans (Romans 8:28).
Are you surrounded by difficult circumstances right now? Have you been struggling to understand why they have come to you? Then try to accept with your understanding that God does love you and has allowed those circumstances because He knows that He can bring good out of this for you. Praise Him for what He has brought into your life; do it deliberately and with your understanding.