Posted by: sailingspirit | June 19, 2012

I Found The Power of Praise In The Context

              I admit at times I’ve questioned how praise actually has any power.  It’s not that I didn’t believe God, just that I didn’t understand it.  And as a real thinker kind of person, a scientist, a perpetual student, an analyzer, and teacher I’m not inclined to do things I don’t understand.  (Hence my heretofore absence from the kitchen.)  I’ve been “think-think-think”ing about this like Pooh Bear for some time now, and only recently had an “A-ha!” insight.  As my title gives away, the power is to be found in the context.

              A previous revelation left me enamored with the heart-breaking beauty of God’s near-incomprehensible grace:  God commands us to praise Him, not because He needs to know how great He is, but because when we focus on Him long enough to praise Him, we position ourselves to receive from Him.  So, what appears to be all about Him, He turns back around to be all for our benefit.  Can you imagine going to a wedding reception, and when you stand up to toast the Bride and Groom, she makes a speech about how awesome you are?  Nobody expects that to happen.  Or, have you ever left a restaurant without water still in your glass?  That’s a game you can’t win.  Blessing God is like playing tennis with a senior player; no matter how you try, you can’t score one over on God because He always returns the shot.  Always.  Always!

              So contemplating how praise relates to power when we are the grantees not the grantors seemed to be a disconnect; power is inherently something you have over someone else.  If praise is power, then giving praise to God would be giving power to God.  It seemed weird to think we would be giving any power to God.  So that couldn’t be quite right.  But on another day I was thinking about the Epic Battle Between Good and Evil, and was startled by the intersection of the two ideas!  The high-level, Big Picture view gave the right context in which to orient my previous thinking:  praise yields power because when we praise we are declaring our loyalty to God–which implies we are rejecting loyalty to Satan.  What God hears as praise, Satan hears as rejection.  Our power of praise is not over God, but over the Kingdom of Darkness!  So God tells us to praise not for His benefit, but for ours–the spiritual equivalent of eating our vegetables.  A-ha!  “I’m quick to the finish ‘cuz I eat m’ spinach….”

              Now recall the last time you heard a crush go on and on about how great someone else is.  They spoke words of praise and appreciation, but they gouged you as deeply as anything could, didn’t they?  What you heard was not really what he or she said, but rather what he or she did not say about you.  So you understand, then, Satan’s experience when you praise God.  You have the power to hurt Satan with your praise.

              So when you feel like you ought to praise but you’re not all that motivated, because you can’t think of anything He’s done for you recently enough that you’re still jazzed about it, try to remember there’s different kinds of praise.  Some is for what He has done—a Gratitude Praise.  Some is just for maintaining the relationship, like sending a card that says “I’m thinking of you today.”  You could call that a Latitude Praise.  Sometimes it’s to bring forth something that’s been promised you—an Attitude Praise.  Sometimes you get swept up praising with other people, because sharing lifts each other up.  That’s a Contagious Praise.  And, as mentioned above, sometimes it’s a Power Praise, because you talk to and about God but your target is actually Satan’s ears.  You talk about all the greatness and strength of God you can remember, like His omniscience and protection and faithfulness, and while doing so your Enemy seems to get smaller and smaller.  David did this a lot during his years as a soldier, saying things like “You are my rock, my shield, my stronghold.” 

              If all that exaltation and talk of loyalty to God makes Satan angry, this next one is sure to chase him off.  Though it’s really just an amped-up version of Power Praise, I like to call it Outrageous Praise, and it can be done directly or indirectly.  My direct usually comes out as the inner 6-year-old:  “Neener Neener Neener!  I know something you don’t know!  And I heard about you.  But my Daddy’s stronger than you are!  My Daddy’s smarter than you are!  My Daddy’s bigger than you are!  My Daddy’s more powerful than you are!  You can’t make me do anything ‘cuz you’re not the boss of me!  Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!”  Okay, even if you don’t risk that indulgence in immaturity, the exaggerated nature of Outrageous Praise is easy to get swept up in.  Go ahead and try it—twist Satan a good one.

               The indirect version is similar, if perhaps more grown-up:  “Ooh My!  Have you seen that Jesus?  He is the most handsome you’ll ever see!  Isn’t He the most forgiving, most merciful, most generous ever?  And He is so smart; He knows all the best everything and has all the best ideas.  Have you seen how many worship Him?  Have you seen how big His Kingdom is?  Why He’s clearly the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  No one else even comes close to His power and cunning, His majesty and His rulership….”  If it drove the Pharisees nuts, you can imagine how it grates on Yeshua’s greatest rival.  I love Outrageous Praise because it takes you from feeling corny to confident so quickly.

              So that’s the answer I was seeking: the power of praise lies in the power you have over your own thoughts, and the Darkness that tries to dupe you.  After chasing Satan off with your praise, God slaps you with a blessing like a holy high-five!  There might be more than these six styles, but just remember to choose from a buffet of praise rather than feeling forced into a singular sack-lunch.  At the very least, if you’re really struggling to get your praise on, find something you appreciate and give Him the credit for it.  A simple “Nice work, G!” will do.  Every little bit counts.



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