I was away this past weekend but Mike told me that rainfall was heavy in Wheaton on Sunday morning, and by the time our early service started there were practically more people on the platform than in the pews. Soggy attendees finally filtered in by the time by the time he got up to preach, but sadly many had missed the most critical element of the service: worship.
I know just how that feels. Due to horrible weather on the east coast, my flight into Boston was significantly delayed Friday night and I didn’t arrive at the conference center where I was due to speak until 9 pm. I made it in time to deliver my first talk BUT I missed most of the music led by one of my favorite worship teams.
Shouldn’t be any big deal, right? Not so. Stepping onto a platform without time to quiet and center my heart towards God felt like trying to jump-start a car whose engine wouldn’t turn over.
This is why I attend both morning worship services at my home church, I thought. I love the preaching (and the preacher, yes!) but after a crowded, chaotic week I need the time of worship. The first service refuels my tank and the second tops it off. For a few precious hours each Sabbath, praise pries me free from my own personal circumstances a little like the way worship opened the prison doors for Paul and Silas in Acts 16.
I have come to believe that praise is the most powerful weapon we have at our disposal in the daily battle of life.
Praise provides a protective covering. Isaiah 62 speaks of putting on a “garment of praise”. I picture that as a pure white shift that goes on each morning under every article of clothing.
Praise produces spiritual soil in which God can work. I remember my dad cultivating the fields around our farm in preparation for planting. When we allow praise to cultivate our hearts, we produce the “good earth” spoken of in Matthew 13.
Praise prepares us to battle from a position of victory. 2 Chron. 20 describes the battle between the Israelites and the Moabites and Ammonites. It was going badly for the people of the covenant, but when Jehoshaphat prayed what I like to call “the prayer of all mothers” (Lord, we don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you!) the tide began to turn.
Does this mean we have to play Pollyanna and pretend to be happy all the time? Of course not. My friend Cheri Fuller puts it best: “It’s expressing your distressing emotions to God, yet choosing to keep praising in spite of how things look to you – and not postponing praise until you feel better. It’s developing a faith that goes beyond your feelings.”
I am so grateful for the worship leaders, instrumentalists and vocalists who give of themselves week after week to prepare the hearts of the people of God for the work of God.
Life is a battle, but the weapon they wield is the most powerful one of all. The power of praise.