Power of Praise?

Sometimes it still surprises me – how much praising God can change me.  How something as simple as singing out to God cuts to the core and affects me so deeply.  I’ve had a definition for worship – joyful surrender.  I know that’s not very holistic – as worship is really a lifestyle – not an event.  That said, there’s something powerful in lifting hands, in singing LOUDLY toward God.

Someone wise once told me to praise God loudly in my car on the way to work – in order to help deal with stress.  As life goes on I seem to forget the power of music – of reaching out to God – instead I use the cheap substitutes of TV, novels, etc. – which distract me and entertain me – but don’t fill me.  The advice was to focus on something other than myself – on the grand story of what God is doing in this world.  I think that was good advice.

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to experience a time of worship with other believers – a time of raising hands, of singing loudly in an energetic environment (yes, guitars!) where I see many other people raising hands.  It’s a strange thing – theologically I have no issues with raising hands – it’s been taught to me as an act of surrender.  But what is strange is that it’s still hard for me to do – as it feels wrong.  I’m not sure where all this comes from – but it seems that unless other people are doing it I can’t seem to do it.

What I’m finding is that this focus on praise – on release and freedom in praising him – is changing me.  I find myself wanting to seek after God more – instead of the things of this world.  As I write this I’m sitting in a hospital room with my Dad.  Last night I was driving here after hearing the news that he was not doing well (you know it’s not good when you get a phone call @ 1 in the morning).  During that drive I was listening to some jazzy christian music and there was a peace there.  What’s strange is that while I don’t want my Dad to die I find myself thinking that for him to die is to be with God.  That’s not just a good thing for him – it’s a great thing.

I remember at other times in my life when I’ve taken the time to stop and praise God it’s really helped.  For me it’s one of the most powerful things in my life – helping to draw me toward God.  It’s help me stop a “worry” session right in it’s tracks – as it changes my attitude.  I don’t know why Praise is so powerful – but I love it.  I find myself wanting to shout – to almost scream toward God – not be musical or on key.  For me it is a joyful surrender – of releasing my problems, my stress and my control of life to him.

Of course the Bible is filled with praise references – as I think God was smarter than me in knowing how good it’s for us.  Simply do a search onhttp://www.biblegateway.com for praise (http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=praise&version1=31&searchtype=all) and you’ll see a lot.  Some of it is in a command form – and some of it is spontaneous.  One of my favorite examples is David’s dancing before God -to the point his wife is embarassed (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Samuel%206&version=NIV) His response to me is classic:

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

I wonder sometimes if praise is back to that basic concept of admitting that God is God – and I am not.  That there is something bigger in this world than me.  I think in the world today we need this – something to distract us from all the noise of the world – and back to God.  To remember in wonder the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us  – the wonderful love he has lavished on us.

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