I listened to a TD Jakes Sermon about feeling afflicted even when we aren’t truly afflicted and it reverberated with me as I reflect on my current unhappiness with grad school. In Jake’s sermon, he references the Apostle Paul and how Paul was so depressed that he could not visit Corinth with the fear that the visit would literally drive him to suicide. Jake’s went on to demonstrate the difference between “images” and “imagination” and how Satan will invade our thoughts, steal our joy to create false images of unhappiness.
Yesterday, I listened to this sermon, for the third time in 2 years and I am certain that I keep being led to revisit this sermon due to its ongoing relevance in my life. Paul is the one who demonstrated the highest degree of Christian persecution.
1 Chron 16:35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.
When he prayed, prayed and prayed to have relieved what felt like a thorn in his side, God told him, “my grace is sufficient for you.” Whilst I know that God’s grace is sufficient for me, why does the pain yet subsist? The creeping dissatisfaction and depression that acts as an invisible war in my mind so I may be defeated and failed to complete my purpose of delivering wicked souls.
Toni Morrison style, selah.
Q. What should we do in the time of persecution?
A. We praise the Lord!
Often times, we emphasize the importance of praying without ceasing but verse 16, “rejoice always,” with only two words is arguably one of the most concise verses in the bible (excluding “Jesus wept). Thereafter we are told to pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I can’t speak for others but praising is easier than prayer. For prayer involves my participation, a mastery of the mind of which I must work deliberately to bring Satan and his thoughts into submission. Whereas praise, authorized and conducted completely by the Holy Spirit only requires my faith and I am privileged to be brought to a place of joyful submission.
I was dancing in church with my tambourine this morning and a fellow member asked me, “where do you get all the energy?” and his question startled me! My eyes widened in shock, Suddenly I had a heightened awareness of the Why and How. What this man didn’t realize was that he was witnessing the total sum of personal testimony. And while I personally knew my truth – that I was always under unimaginable persecution I learned to subdue – the verbalization of that necessity, it startled me.
Why are we so ashamed to praise God?
Because actions speak louder than words. And while a man can lie, his praise cannot. True praise is initiated and sustained by the Holy Spirit by our genuine calling of God’s heart into ours, our acceptance and our celebration. But if we spent Mon-Sat living in hopelessness, doubt & anger at God – we cannot then beguile the Holy Spirit on Sunday and expect him to manifest into our unclean vessels.
Nah, God doesn’t work like that.
Why else are people so unwilling, so afraid to praise God? Because we are concerned about what others think of us? that others would think us foolish but do we worship man or God and if we fail to execute the privilege of dancing in the spirit then we are not worshipping God and by default, we are worshipping man/our own obsession with the reputation we want to present to others.
Finally, man is afraid to praise God because when we praise God we are exposing our imperfection and our weakness publicly with the mere hope that God would decide to visit and by means of his presence – bless us. Matthew 9:21, the woman only wanted to touch the hem of his garment whereas I don’t even need his garment, his presence is sufficient for my faith. When I am sad and despicted of myself, I cry out demanding God to just come, just sit with me, be with me. Even in my sin, I yet petitioned for God, Lord, just be with me and I believe that by that faith God has blessed me abundantly.
Psalms 150 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
I would like to proclaim to be an extraordinary prayer but truthfully I’m not. God and I are consistently in non-formal communication. I was listening to Pastor Michael Todd earlier and he spoke about making the time for God, waking up an hour early before work or during our lunch breaks or in the evenings and the thought of setting aside a distinct time just to tell God the things he walked and talked with me all day seemed ridiculously redundant to me.
Is God, not omniscient? So he already knows about the bad break up that nearly took my life, he knows that Grad school is terrible for me, he knows all the bills that I need to be paid and he knows the due dates better than I do. There is too much supernatural work to reside my concerns in this realm and I need God to move in my life not play therapist to my insecurities. With respect, I repent, I ask for blessings but I don’t practice prayer in long stretches of soliloquies. The purpose of prayer is to establish and reinstate our belief so that through our faith we can inherit his phenomenal power for any situation. As a believer, I only need a few words from God and thereafter I am moved to a phenomenal peace that brings a joy – that brings celebration that manifests itself to praise!
We pray as a means to find praise.
In the eternal life, there is an immense pleasure beyond the throes of any orgasm or drug we could experience and that eternal Heavenly pleasure is accompanied by eternal praising. When we praise we declare that we are unashamedly his and when he protects from the enemy, pouring us with treasures that transcend our comprehension, he is declaring that he is unashamedly ours.
Church this morning, the minister delivered the word teaching me something about David that I never knew. She said that King Saul was incessantly possessed by demons and it was only when child David played music that he had any relief. David sung praises to God and those praises invited the presence of God and by God’s presence, the demons were arrested.
Same applies to me.
Definitely not possessed by demons but I am continually stressed by demons. Consequently, I keep God present as a demon-deterrent. When we praise it causes the enemy to flee.
Jeremiah 20:13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! He rescues the oppressed from the power of evil people.
Prayer is more important than praise but praise is more powerful than prayer. Praise delivers instantaneous results. Praise completely delivers us with joy because with Holy Spirit praise we visit a supernatural realm. Upon visiting the supernatural realm our priorities are properly ranked. The carnal, the problems therein, are made null and void and we temporarily experience a small diluted sample of the ecstasy felt in Heaven. Speaking in tongues is the highest proclamation of praise because it combines the communication of prayer with the highest declaration of faith – speaking in an unintelligible babble without an exact translation of what we are saying to God but with the full faith that God receives it.
I remember growing up in the Pentecostal church – exposed to saints being slain in the spirit, passing out, wigs falling off heads, while the ushers were dually tasked with not only greeting people but catching saints who were dropping like flies – so moved by the Ghost… remember the days when we referred to the Holy Spirit as just “The Ghost,” or perhaps that is just a southern colloquialism, I digress. Miracles and supernatural healing happen in this realm when we praise in unison in this realm.
Acts 3:8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
If there are 100 people in a service and more people doubt the power of God than submit to the power of God, God will still be moved by the faith of one saint and he will respond individually to bless the one saint but if 100 people are in service and 90% of those faith believing member agree and believe – there is a higher probability that God will bless all of the members. Additionally, even if the non-belief did not help usher in the presence of God, the non-belief will inevitably be in the presence of God and thus blessed with temporal peace even if beyond the church doors they regress back to suffering.
As saints, we must praise to demonstrate our faith and in our professing we become professors of faith. There is a vivid declaration between the righteous and the wicked
Malachi 3:18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
If we are to bring people to faith and convince people of faith we cannot be afraid of our faith. We must be bold so others are brought to boldness, out of the darkness to light so the sink in sin may be healed and preserved from destruction.
Sharlene, how do I learn to praise God? Where does it start?
Praise begins in the heart. I remember the first time I had an awareness of the Holy Spirit via praise. I was 13 and I was cleaning my mother’s apartment singing in full off-key screeching Byron’s cage, “The Presence of the Lord is Here.” Ten years later it was a quiet hum on my way to take an undergrad exam, later my praise escalated as full-blown gospel concerts in the shower. Finally, when none of my roommates were home I would lose myself, dancing in delight at God’s totality but I was yet ashamed and afraid to publicly praise the Lord in church. However, enough persecution will prompt you to praise. Go through enough spiritual adversity and you will not have the luxury of giving a crap about what anyone, saints or sinners, thinks of you. Go through enough battles, so many battles, wounds unhealed from the last battle while scrapping in the next battle and you will unabashedly find your place of praise.
Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
Psalm 32:7-8 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Be blessed by the convenience of your praise. That it is voluntary and not as a prerequisite for surviving unto the morning. Do not wait until you are succumbed with the consequences of your sin and you are praising God from inside a jail cell. Praise God whilst thou are physically, mentally and spiritually free so that when God blesses you, your blessings are applicable for multiplication. When we live under the will of God we are living below zero, in the negative, in our praise brings us back to a starting point of zero. Alternatively, when the saints of God praise God we are immediately qualifiable for gifts of the Holy Spirit and the tangible desires of this world. Praise is service and when serving God he rewards us for our praise. Praise breaks chains that prohibit the wicked from being saved in Jesus name.
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Hallejuah, thank you, Jesus
Hallejuah, thank you Jesus, Hallejuah, thank you Jesus,
Hallejuah, thank you, Jesus, Hallejuah, thank you Jesus, Hallejuah, thank you Jesus, Hallejuah, thank you Jesus, Hallejuah, thank you Jesus, Hallejuah, thank you Jesus, Hallejuah, thank you Jesus, Hallejuah, thank you, Jesus.