By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
You and I were created for worship. Yet, we were born to sin. Praise and worship don’t come naturally. Thinking of ourselves and succumbing to temptation does.
Scripture clearly tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God’s will for our lives – to praise Him in all things – would not be so clearly stated in Scripture if it were not so important to our Maker and Master.
Lifting your voice when you’re loaded down with pressure or responsibilities, changes you.
Praising the Lord, in spite of your problems, transforms you.
And singing, in the struggles and stresses of life, helps to give you a whole new focus that can change your perspective, protect you from temptation, and deliver you from the evil of living a self-absorbed life.
Here are eight ways praise delivers you from evil and helps you live obediently:
1. Praise Slows You Down and Helps You Live Wisely
Praise and worship slow us down and usher us into the throne room of the Almighty God. It causes us to “be still and know” that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Praise to our Lord places us in a position where He can reveal Himself to us, which simply causes us to worship Him all the more. Praise also keeps us obedient.
When we slow down to worship and praise Him for Who He is and all He’s done, it leaves us with an awareness of His power and presence in our lives. We are delivered from the haste of impulsive actions that often lead to regret.
If we are too busy to worship, we are too busy to live—and we make ourselves more prone to careless mistakes and foolish decisions.
2. Praise Protects Your Relationship with God
Praising God is a natural expression of our relationship with the Living God. It’s the way we show Him we love Him. It’s the way we show Him we trust Him, even when we don’t understand what He is allowing. To follow God’s mandate to “give thanks in all circumstances” (even the difficult or confusing ones) sets us apart from the rest of the world which praises only what it prefers and understands.
Praising God as a lifestyle is imperative if we are to be people who experience holiness and obedience.
We were created for God’s pleasure. And God takes pleasure when we worship Him by living in the awareness of His presence and proclaiming His goodness in our lives. Just as a car needs a regular oil change and engine tune-up to keep it running effectively—and just as our bodies need food, water, exercise, and sleep to function properly—you and I need to regularly reconnect with our Maker through worship. It is the only way to live the kind of lives God meant us to live: obedient and holy ones, fully dependent on His Son, Jesus.
3. Praise Delivers You from a Sense of Entitlement
It is natural for us to look at what others have and desire it, too. It is in our fleshly nature to be competitive with others so we can win, to be critical of others who have more than us, and to complain about what we don’t have that we really want.
Yet, Scripture tells us “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). How do we become content? When we realize that everything we have comes from Him.
Praise gives us a perspective that we really deserve nothing, but a good and faithful God has given us far more than we deserve anyway. That perspective delivers us from selfishness and an attitude of entitlement. It also makes us God-focused first, and then others-focused rather than only self-focused.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Ben-White
4. Praise Protects You from Pride
A prideful spirit operates on the motto that says it’s all about me. But praise, acknowledging that everything I have comes from my Father above, keeps me out of the picture and places the spotlight on Him.
James 1:17 tells us: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Sometimes the very things we don’t want are God’s gifts to us in disguise. When you and I acknowledge that every gift is from God, and we continually thank and praise Him in spite of whatever comes our way, there is no room for us to take the credit for ourselves or believe we are more important than we really are.
Praise keeps us humble. And that protects us from the sin of pride.
5. Praise Keeps You Surrendered and Moldable
Psalm 100:4 commands us to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise” (NASB). There is no condition placed on that command. We are not told to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving only when He’s blessed your socks off.” Neither are we told to “Enter his courts with praise after a really successful year.”
In Habakkuk 3:17-19, at a time of devastating loss for the nation of Judah, the prophet focused not on his feelings or circumstances, but turned his eyes and praise to the sovereign God who would give him strength in spite of the struggles.
He prayed: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.”
It’s tempting to resist the work of God in our lives because many times it’s uncomfortable. Yet, that is how God shapes and refines us—through the painful and uncomfortable situations in life. It’s also tempting to blame God when life goes bad. Praising God like Habakkuk did, simply because we are commanded to (see Psalm 150), causes us to focus on our unchanging God, not on our often-changing circumstances.
When we focus on Him, not on what is happening, we can be alert to what He wants to teach us, how He wants to grow us, and how to please His heart in the midst of our problems and difficulties.
6. Praise Reminds You What Life is About
It is when we start focusing on worldly pursuits, self-fulfillment, and happiness at all costs that we lose sight of God’s call on our lives and head down a destructive path. Scripture tells us to identify with Christ as Paul did when he said in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Starting and ending each day in praise will keep us eternal-minded and remind us that all that matters is Him and the glory He receives from our lives. Colossians 3:2-4 instructs: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
You can keep the perspective that Christ is your life when you are constantly in an attitude of praise.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet
7. Praise Purifies Your Desires
Scripture explains why we sin: “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15).
Psalm 37:4 tells us when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us (places within us) the desires of our hearts. To delight ourselves in the Lord is to focus on the delights of His character and the delights of a relationship with Him.
That focus leads to praise, which purifies our desires...so all we want is Him. What better way to keep from being enticed by our desires than to keep our minds fixed on things above (Colossians 3:2) or rather, fixed on the One above.
8. Praise Lifts You from the Pit of Despair
In Psalm 13:1-2, David was on his face when he prayed “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” (ESV).
We don’t know what David was struggling with, but he apparently felt forgotten and invisible. He expressed his feelings of despair and anxiety to God when he prayed “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3).
Although David started his song on his face in despair, after getting onto his knees in prayer and remembering who God is, he was able to stand up on his feet in praise. He ended his song proclaiming God’s goodness: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:5-6). God had dealt bountifully with him? Nothing changed in David’s circumstances between the first and last line of his song, but praise changed his perspective and brought him peace. Let praise pull you out of your pit.
Can you begin praising God right now as a way of delivering you from impending evil or the temptation to dwell on self? In all things give thanks, Scripture says, for this is God’s will for you and His plan to keep you holy.
A Prayer of Praise and Worship
Lord, I praise Your Name for being an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God. You want what is eternally best for me and You tell me in Your Word I can have that when I seek You first (Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:33). Help me to be thankful in all things and to praise you in the pain and problems and difficulties of life, knowing You really can work all things together for good to those that love You and are called according to Your purpose (Romans 8:28). Amen.
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, mom, Bible teacher, and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationships with God and others. She is the author of several books including the best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 140,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When God Sees Your Tears, and When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection, which she co-authored with her husband, Hugh. For more on her speaking ministry, or books and resources to help you grow in your relationship with God, your marriage or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Jarenwicklund
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, award-winning writer, national speaker, and the author of several books to help women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and one another. She and her husband, Hugh, co-authored the book When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection. Some of her books to help you combat fear and strengthen your trust in God include When Women Walk Alone (more than 145,000 copies sold), Women on the Edge, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You and When Women Long for Rest. You can find out more about her ministry, books, and free resources at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com .