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By Andrew Wommack
In Deuteronomy, God pronounced a curse on the children of Israel: "Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things" (28:47). Even though we are not under the Law, this verse tells us that God wants us to have joyful and thankful hearts. Jesus was joyful. Hebrews 1:9 tells us that praising God at all times is part of the normal Christian life: "Therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
How does praise affect the believer? When we praise God, we are acknowledging that it is not our own efforts that produce blessings and prosperity. In Deuteronomy, chapters 7 and 8, the children of Israel are told to remember to thank God for the abundance they will receive. God, not their own efforts, gave them wealth. Praise makes us humble.
Thanksgiving is also a way to abound in faith. Any time we operate in a high degree of faith, praise is present. Colossians 2:6-7 says, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." When you are believing God for something and it is completed, praise is a natural response. What some people often neglect is that they can increase their faith with praise, and their answers will come more quickly.
By focusing on your problems instead of praising God, you become self-centered and prideful. Praise forces you to get your attention on God and off your problems. Some people say that they are praying, but they are so focused on their problems that they are actually complaining. If you focus on the Word of God, faith will come. How do you keep from focusing on the problem when you are in pain or have no money? The most important thing you can do is praise God. A negative, complaining attitude won't change overnight, but beginning to praise God will start the transformation in your attitude. If you have always been negative, you must practice thinking on positive things. Philippians 4:4 tells us to "rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice."
When we pray, we should begin with praise and end with praise. The Lord's prayer gives us this example, and Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." When you pray with thanksgiving, the peace of God will keep your heart and mind.
Praise will build you up spiritually and keep you from crumbling, "for the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). The Apostle Paul was persecuted and suffered far more than most of us, yet he put it all in perspective in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." First, Paul said our affliction is just for a moment in light of eternity. He looked into the spiritual realm. Praise will push you into the spiritual realm to see what God has done for you. Paul and Silas praised God in prison. It was the praise that released the power of God and the earthquake that delivered them from their captivity.
Praising God doesn't just affect us; it is a powerful weapon against the devil as well. Psalm 8:2 says, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger." In the book of Matthew (21:16), at the time of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), Jesus quotes from Psalm 8. When he quoted this verse, he interchanged the words "perfected praise" for "ordained strength." This is a tremendous revelation: Praise is strength (Neh. 8:10)!
Some people are so involved in spiritual warfare that their attention is on the devil more than on God. There is a place for fighting and resisting the devil, but focusing too much on the devil is not good. Praise is a powerful weapon against the devil that has no negative fallout. In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat appointed singers to lead his army into battle with praise unto the Lord. When they went into battle singing and praising God, the Lord set an ambush, and their enemies were defeated.
Why does praise defeat Satan? Satan's sin was jealousy of God. He is still driven by jealousy today (Is. 14:13-14). Even if he can't get people to worship him, his goal is to keep people from worshiping God. He seeks to draw attention away from God. When we worship God, we thwart Satan's plan.
We have learned the power of starting a service with praise. Praise makes the devil flee and releases the anointing of God. Even the secular world knows the benefits of praise. The medical profession says that a person who is joyful is more healthy than a person who is morbid and depressed. Praise stops a negative attitude.
The most important reason to praise God is that it ministers unto Him. Acts 13 describes a situation at the church in Antioch. Verse 2 says, "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." This is an awesome statement. They ministered to the Lord. How do we minister to the Lord? We often think we serve God only by ministering to other people. This happened in Matthew, chapter 8, with Peter's mother-in-law. She waited on them and did household duties. That is a ministry; however, in this instance in Acts, they were fasting, praying, and ministering to the Lord. They were worshiping and glorifying God. That also ministers to the Lord.
The truth is that God desires ministry. God is complete and self-contained, but He needs us to love Him. Any person who loves has a need to show that love and a need to have that love returned. That is the reason for the creation of man in the first place. In Revelation 4, John saw a vision of what is happening in heaven. He saw twenty-four elders and four living creatures that don't cease praising God. In verse 11, the elders said, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." This tells us that God's original and current purpose for creation is for His pleasure. God created us to be full of praise, joy, and thanksgiving. He is blessed by His creation.
We are often so service-oriented that we think we have to minister to others or work at the church to bless God. We think our net worth to God is our service. We forget that if it blesses God, it doesn't have to touch anyone else. He longs to know us personally and intimately. There are hundreds of times in Scripture that God solicits our praise. Psalm 100:4 says that we should "enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name."
I married Jamie because I love her and want to share my life with her. Jamie is an excellent homemaker and keeps a clean house, which blesses our family. However, if she cared more for the house than for me, it would cease to minister to me. It is the same way in our relationship with God. Service is not a substitute for a relationship with God.
Our number one priority must be to love God personally. Praise is giving of yourself to God — an intimate communion with Him. If we would praise and seek God first, during our prayer time, other things would be added unto us. (Matt. 6:33)
John 3:16 tells us that God gave His Son that we might have eternal life. Christians often think eternal life begins when you die and go to heaven, but John 17:3 tells us differently. Eternal life is now. Intimately knowing God is eternal life. Praise is a way to begin this love relationship with God.
"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name"(Heb. 13:15).