We praise God not for what He’s done, but for who He is.
The reason the enemy tries to silence our praise is because He knows what authority we hold when we begin to worship God. Luke 19:40 states, “And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” When Jesus spoke these words, they were directed towards the Pharisees who were ordering Jesus to control and quiet His followers. But, Jesus’ followers had a revelation that those who had yet to be transformed by the gospel message didn’t yet have. Praise is what we do because praise is what we were created for.
Halal is the Hebrew word for praise. It simply means “to look toward.” Without praise in our lives, we will be directed in the wrong direction, we will lose sight of the truth, we will be swayed by our emotions and our thoughts, instead of allowing ourselves to be transformed by His ways and His thoughts. This is why God told His people in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” There is a key principle in this passage of Scripture that I want us to get ahold of. Before God speaks these words that we often quote over our lives to encourage us through the valley seasons of life, God extends an invitation to His people. Before God invites them into a life of abundance, He tells the people to listen carefully. If someone is telling you to listen carefully, then you know that what is about to be spoken is crucial. It wasn’t just crucial for the people who were hearing the Word of God, it was crucial for the people as a whole, it was crucial for the future of Israel. It was crucial for you and I.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found
Call upon Him while He is near
Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on Him.”
It is a plea from God, for man to forsake his unrighteous living and selfish ways and to return to Him. We were created for covenant with God. We enter covenant with God by faith. In repentance, in recognizing that we have been created from dust and ashes, only to be redeemed by His love, we come to the understanding of our position as children of God. Praise keeps us in covenant with God. Because praise has us looking towards God instead of looking toward ourselves or other people for fulfillment, direction, and hope, we are able to live a life of blessing.
This is why praise precedes the blessing. Praise isn’t just an act, it is a posture that we live our lives by. To live a life of praise is to live a life of every day humility and dependence on God. Without it, we will worship that with which we have created, instead of the Creator. We, like many generations before us, will begin to praise (look towards) idols to fulfill and lead us. Whether that be people’s approval, climbing the success ladder, our careers, social media, materialistic gains, you fill in the blank. Whatever you are looking towards will guide you in this life. Whatever you look towards in this life will inform your worldview. This is why it is absolutely vital that we look towards God, that we live our lives in constant praise to Him, to Him who we owe everything to. This is why, when my prayers aren’t being answered, when I am experiencing delays and setbacks, when the miracle is still underway, I can praise God. Even when we don’t have physical evidence of God working in our lives, we know that He is working, because He is our Creator.
Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This verse is evidence that God is working in our lives. But, just like Isaiah 55, this verse is preceded by instructions from God. God commands His people to flee from their wicked ways, to turn back towards their Creator. Rather than relying on our selves (which will fail us every time), we can turn towards God, the God who gives us a glorious hope for our future, no matter where we may find ourselves today.
What does praise do? It reminds me of this:
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:20-23
When we get a revelation of who our God is, it changes everything. I don’t praise Him for what He’s done, I praise Him for who He is, because without Him, there is no breath in my lungs, there is nothing to look towards, there is no hope. When I live a life of praise, a life that looks towards God, I discover hope everlasting. One day, our bodies, our minds, our hearts, the whole of who we are, will be redeemed. This is the glorious hope. This is why I praise God. What sin tried to destroy in this life, what unfortunate circumstances we found ourselves in, what injustice we experienced, what sorrow we endured, all of it will be redeemed. This is why praise is vital. Praise keeps my focus on Jesus, praise keeps the Truth at the forefront of my mind, praise feeds the Spirit and allows us to experience a taste of heaven here on earth.
In this season of life, there are miracles that I am believing God for. There are circumstances that have left me discouraged and heartbroken. There are situations that my friends are in that make me wish that I could take away the pain and understand “the why” to what they are facing. But, God isn’t beckoning me to understand the why. He’s not beckoning me to figure everything out. He doesn’t want me to fill my mind with worries or what ifs or be plagued by fear that has no place in my thinking. Instead, He invites me into a life of abundance through praise and worship.
Praise precedes the blessing. Because praise is a posture of faith, praise is knowing that God is working even when I see no change in my earthly circumstances. A posture of praise keeps my eyes on the Kingdom. Praise gives way to perfect peace and a sound mind. Praise feeds the spirit and not the flesh and therefore, unlocks the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Praise births a faith that cannot come from any other way than looking towards the God who knows all, sees all, creates all, and answers all. Keep your eyes on God, because it is only then that everything else will fall into place.
While I do not know what the future holds, while I do not know when certain prayers will be answered or how they will be answered, I praise God, knowing that the greatest blessing I could ever hope for is already mine. Writing these words barely touches the surface of what I’m trying to convey. As I think about the goodness of God, as I reflect on all that He has done for us through His sacrifice through Jesus Christ, I am drawn to a posture of praise. As I think about the Truth of the Scriptures, that His faithfulness is not dependent on my faithfulness, that He gave of Himself freely, that His mercies are new every morning, that His love for us is beyond anything that we will ever grasp in this life, my goodness, it is overwhelming. Let that be your focus. Let His love and His character be what you look towards. Stop focusing on your shortcomings, your failures, or what is filling your mind with worry and fear today. Let praise overflow from your heart. It changes everything. Today, you don’t have to wait for answered prayer to experience the blessings of God.
“But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble
To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy.”
We praise God not for what He’s done, but for who He is.