As congregations around the earth are beginning to gather together once more after serious regulations during our worldwide pandemic, I wanted to write a note of encouragement to worship leaders and worshipers alike. If you’ve been reading my writings for a while, then you know I love teaching about worship and empowering worship leaders. What we do, friends, is so, so crucial!
Here’s a powerful—and well-known—reminder on the importance of leading worship and on praising our good God.
“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.’
“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and the Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
“When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day” (2 Chronicles 20:21-26).
You know how the story goes—a choir led the army! My favorite part is that it took three days for God’s people to collect the spoils. Three days. The power of praising God is astounding. Here’s a few takeaways.
1. Praising God strengthens us for battle.
Jesus said in Matthew 21:16, “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise.” He was quoting Psalm 8:2, but the passage He was referencing actually says this: “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, You have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger” (emphasis mine).
Wait—did Jesus misquote the Scripture?
Certainly ‘praise’ and ‘strength to silence the enemy’ are two very different things—right? Or could it be that they’re connected? Of course, I vote the latter. Jesus was subtly teaching us a new revelation by equating praise and strength.
Maybe it seems foolish from an earthly army’s perspective to send out bards and poets to announce the glories of God, but it seems to make perfect sense in the invisible realm. When we praise God, we grow in strength! And our praises decimate the demonic!
2. Praising God prophesies victory.
So much of worship, and worship leading especially, is a prophetic act because we don’t usually sing about the way things are—we sing about the way things ought to be. Maybe that sounds like a new concept for you, but think about this: singing to God is simply praying with melody. We ought to understand the scope and power of our singing in the same way we understand the scope and power of praying. If praying changes our situation, then so does singing with faith.
Just as we pray the will of the Father to be done, so also we sing the will of the Father into being. Remember, friends, we are citizens of a Kingdom that is truer than the reality we can perceive! We sing life, health, abundance, prosperity, and peace over ourselves, our church families, and our world even if—and especially when—we don’t see it yet.
When David the psalmist was surrounded on all sides, he prophetically sang, “When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident” (Psalm 27:2-3, emphasis mine). David couldn’t have known that his enemies would fall—but in faith, he was able to sing it into being.
Even in Jehoshaphat’s case, he literally sent the choir ahead of the trained military. It was not a metaphor for him; he understood the prophetic nature of praise: it would level the battlefield even before his troops arrived.
3. Praising God recalibrates our thinking.
Our knees may knock and our voices may tremble, but when we praise, something shifts in our hearts. To pray, “God, I’m scared and I need help!” is a perfectly fine prayer, but praise is altogether different.
At its most basic level, to praise someone is to compliment him. Right? “Hey, you have a great attitude about this.” “You’re always punctual, and I’m glad I can count on that.” “I love your parenting style.” Do you see? It’s extending sincere admiration. When we praise God, it’s exactly the same.
What do you admire about God? Maybe, “God, You always keep Your word.” That’s praise! Or, “God, You are so strong,” or, “God, You always know what to say and when to say it,” or, “God, You’ve been so loyal to me over many years.”
And when we compliment God for who He is, it recalibrates our thinking. It rewires our hearts. The formula, if you will, for “not letting our hearts be troubled” is to recall the faithfulness of the ever-faithful One—to acknowledge that He is deeply good and that He’s currently, enthusiastically up to good things.
4. Praising God activates faith.
Listen to what TV and radio minister Andrew Wommack wrote once: “Nearly everyone agrees that praise is good, but very few feel any responsibility to praise God when they don’t feel like it. I don’t know anyone who wakes up in the morning and plans on being depressed. They would like to be happy and praise God, but they don’t feel like they have any control over this. They think that praise is just a response to what happens and that if everything goes right, they will automatically do it. That is definitely not the case.”
Over the years, I’ve had a few people come to me after services or after events and say something like, “I just don’t feel like praising God today, so singing out strong or raising my hands would make me a hypocrite.” I hear the heart behind that, but I’ve noticed that the ones who say that are (often) not actually on a quest for authenticity—there are some deeper issues to be explored. And if you would be so kind as to let me speak frankly, I think the Scriptures would say that person is an idol-worshiper, and the idol is his feelings.
After all, isn’t choosing to do the right thing even when we don’t feel like it, a mark of maturity?
Friends, whether or not you feel like it, lift your voice and begin to praise God. Call out who He is to you, and in so doing, you will remind your soul of glorious, ancient truths. Thank Him loudly for what He’s done and is doing, and your heart will be recalibrated. Especially in light of my previous three observations, you’ll find that fresh faith is inevitable when you are infused with strength, prophesying victory over yourself, and entering into the situation with a heavenly mindset.
You see, praise unlocks something deep inside our spirits—faith!
And, more often than not, when you lift your heart to praise God, the “feeling” will follow—which is a wonderful bonus, but not a prerequisite.
What is your battle?
What’s the army standing in your way?
What lie is the devil constantly trying to convince you is reality?
It may not sound like a good battle strategy in the natural, but in fact, it may actually be the best one of all: praise God. Yes, praise the Lord. Just like Jehoshaphat sent out the praisers to pave the way, send out your praise!
And worship leaders, equip your teams to march ahead strong and bravely, setting the example to praise God in exciting and adventurous times, and in scary and uncertain times. Your sound—your shout—has supernatural ramifications!
“I will”—look at that powerful choice—“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; the humble and downtrodden will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us lift up His Name together” (Psalm 34:1-3, emphasis mine).
Oh, yes! Yes! Amen!