The other day, I was sitting in a church service and wasn't having a good morning. I was irritable about something, feeling full—not of the Holy Spirit but of something I'd eaten too much of on Saturday night—and I was questioning why I even walked through the door. We talk a lot at Infusion about how real the spiritual battle is for our minds, and I can tell you that it is a fight that I have to gear up for every day. Some days are not as bad as others, but I don't have a day in memory where I could honestly say, "Wow! I haven't dealt with discouragement, sinful thoughts, insecurity, fear, pride, bitterness, lack of forgiveness—and the list could continue—at all today!" This particular morning, I felt like I was losing.
As I was looking down at my feet, sipping my coffee, trying to figure out how I was going to apologize to Meghan yet again for one of my moods, I made a simple choice. I chose to start singing the song that the band was playing. I don't remember what the song was, but I do remember that something shifted in my heart as I began to declare the truth about who God is. After a couple of minutes, the song itself became of little importance as the Lord worked on the places in my heart that weren't right. Prayers of confession and repentance came to my lips, tears began to flow, and I began to experience the presence of God that was with me all along.
This is the best way I know how to describe the power of praise: you make a choice to offer praise to God, regardless of how you are feeling in the moment, and He takes care of the rest. In Isaiah 61:1-3 we read a prophecy of what Christ would accomplish on our behalf:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
My desire is to take full advantage of what Jesus Christ has done for me. He has already given me a garment of praise, and I want to experience Him more deeply as I learn to wear it. My challenge to you is just to try it out. Try praising Him, especially when you don't feel like it. You don't even need a song. It could be as simple as telling Him thanks for the blessings He has given you when everything in your life seems like it is trying to make you ungrateful, bitter, and hardhearted. Our God is faithful and present, and I'm willing to bet He will meet you in the moment.
[As adapted from The Bondage Breaker and Stomping Out The Darkness by Dr. Neil Anderson and Dr. Dave Park.]