Praise – God’s strategy for victory

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall ever be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:2)  Praise The Lord 5

It’s no accident that I’m writing about praise right now – last week, during our usual healing prayer meeting, we experienced an “attack” – we came out of our meeting at 9 p.m., and at least 17 cars in the parking lot had been vandalized – paint thinner thrown on them, doors and hoods “keyed,” and even offensive words scratched on the cars. Was it aimed at us? Or at someone attending our meeting? We don’t know yet. Whoever did it knew what group was there – we have a sign out front that advertises healing prayer every Tuesday at 7 p.m. It was a shock – very upsetting, and it felt personal. The police were notified, and they are still investigating.

That night, as we tried to wrap our minds around what had happened, we gathered in a circle and started to pray for the person (or persons) who had done this – we forgave, and asked that God’s healing love touch them.

Now, a week after the attack, I gave a talk on praise that had been scheduled two weeks before, and we feel this was no accident – God wanted us to respond to the attack with praise. Here is an email we got from Kandyce the day after the vandalism: “I can’t get last night off my mind. I’m sure it’s the same for everyone. I keep thinking about how prophetic it was, beginning with my last minute decision to fast for the IOTT’s, to Deacon Brian starting the night with a story about his car being keyed (!) and how we have to choose to love, to Jim’s testimony to trust!! God was in every moment, preparing us.”

So God prepared us to respond in love and trust. And the next step he prepared – praise!

Praise permeates the Bible – in the psalms, and in the many stories of victory. Verbal praise is especially emphasized – speaking or singing aloud, but one scripture in particular captures the power of praise – in Psalm 22, the psalmist exclaims that God inhabits our praises: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel.” (Psalm 22:3)

The “weapon” of praise ensures that the very power of God is present in your prayer and your situation, whatever it is – depression, cancer, family problems, finances, unemployment – and once you have the awesome, creative power of God, you can expect amazing answers to prayer.

Praise opens the gates of heaven, changes the atmosphere, increases the power of the Holy Spirit, and in turn increases the fruits of the Holy Spirit, including joy and peace. It is a weapon that can be used against spirits that attack us individually and our ministry. When we praise, barriers come down between us and God – pride dissipates, and self-image can be healed as we realize we are worthy to praise God – He loves us.

One of the most amazing bible accounts takes place in Second Chronicles – when King Jehoshaphat follows God’s battle instructions to defeat Judah’s enemies:
“(Jehoshaphat) appointed some to sing to the LORD and some to praise the holy Splendor as it went forth at the head of the army. They sang: ‘Give thanks to the LORD, whose love endures forever.’ At the moment they began their jubilant praise, the LORD laid an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and those of Mount Seir who were coming against Judah, so that they were defeated.” (2 Chronicles 20:21-22)

So on the night scheduled for praise, that’s what we did. We had just as many people attend the meeting as we normally do, and we focused on praising our God – not on fear. We played praise music that brings us heart-to-heart with the Lord, experiencing His love and power: Break Every Chain (Jesus Culture), Great I Am (New Life Worship), God of Angel Armies (Chris Tomlin), I Will Rise (Chris Tomlin). The change in the atmosphere was tangible.

The power of praise that night doesn’t surprise me – music bypasses intellectual barriers and takes the message right to the heart, and there are many reports of people being healed during the praise segment of a healing service. So somehow, there is change taking place on a physical level. This is supported by the amazing scientific research of Dr. Masaru Emoto, who has performed water crystal experiments that show beautiful crystals formed when words such as “love” and “thank you” are spoken, or classical music is played, as opposed to malformed, distorted crystals formed by water exposed to heavy metal music or words expressing hate. Couple this with the knowledge that the human body is 70 percent water – what do you think happens when we are singing and praising God? I think there is a physical change in us – possibly a profound change.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9-11)

As I look at how God prepared us, I want to take this strategy into my personal life: Respond in love, respond with trust, and begin praising the Lord for His victory in the situation.

The final scripture I will keep close to my heart is from 1 Chronicles 16:35 “Save us, O God of our salvation; Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise.” The Hebrew understanding of triumph does not simply mean “victory” – it means “to exult in a victory already won.”

And that’s where I want to be – exulting in a victory already won!