EARLIER THIS YEAR, the Lord began dealing with me about prayer and praise. We often separate them, but they work together. We see how they fit together in the following scripture passage.
Philippians 4:6–7 (NLT)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
There are three parts here. First, we pray about everything. Second, we thank Him. And then, we will experience God’s peace.
I like to say that prayer and praise are like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Chocolate is really good by itself. Peanut butter is awesome too. When you put them together . . . now that’s something special!
Prayer and praise bring the peace. Oftentimes we are praying but not experiencing peace. And that’s because we’re missing the praise part.
Praise is God’s language.
Some people pray and pray and don’t see results, so they start complaining. But that only gives the devil dominion in the situation. Praise is God’s language. It gives Him dominion to move and change things.
Think about Joshua and the wall of Jericho. The Israelites marched around that city six times. When did their victory come? On the seventh time around when they shouted and praised. Praise brought the breakthrough. We’re not missing it in prayer. We got that. We’re missing it in our praise.
The Lord spoke to my heart and said we need to practice our praise. That seemed kind of odd to put together—practice praise. You wouldn’t think we would have to do that. But praise doesn’t come naturally to us. That’s why we offer up the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15). Sometimes we don’t feel like praising the Lord and lifting our arms in worship. But that is where we’re missing it, because praise is what brings the breakthrough and the victory. We have to get good at praising God during the hard times.
If you want to get good at something, you have to practice doing it. Both my sons played baseball, and every week I took them to BP—batting practice. For 30 minutes straight, somebody pitched a ball to them, and they hit it.
Why do baseball players practice hitting the ball so much? Because it needs to become an automatic response. On game day, they can’t be thinking, “Is my stance right? Are my knees bent? Is my weight back so I can power through?”
Players don’t have time to think about those things when the pressure is on. When they step up to the batter’s box, the crowd is yelling. The pitcher is trying to intimidate them so they strike out. When that ball comes flying across home plate, they have to hit it without thinking. It must be an automatic response.
That’s how we need to be with praise. We need to practice praise when our lives are calm and going well. Pressure situations come up all the time. When the devil is shouting, “I’m going to take you out,” our automatic response must be praise.
Reply With Praise
When the pressures of life try to knock us down, we need to auto-reply with praise. Have you ever sent someone an email and received an auto-reply like, “I’m out this week. I’ll respond when I’m back in the office”?
When depression comes, instead of saying, “I’m really sad,” let’s auto-reply with praise. During financial difficulties, auto-reply with praise. When marriage problems arise, instead of saying something ugly, auto-reply with praise!
Jesus said to the woman at the well, “The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way” (John 4:23 NLT).
Notice the phrase “true worshipers.” That indicates there are different kinds of worshipers. If you can be a true worshiper, you can also be a non-true worshiper. The Father is seeking true worshipers. John 4:24 (NLT) says, “God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
God Is Looking
Do you remember playing hide-and-seek as a child? The seeker runs around trying to find the hiders. Seekers look everywhere—behind closed doors and under beds. When they find the hider, they get so excited.
God is like that too. He looks in one church asking, “Are there true worshipers here? No.” So He goes to another church and asks, “Are they worshiping Me in spirit and in truth here? No.” The Father keeps looking until He finally finds a church of true worshipers, and He gets so excited! He’s like, “Let me pull up a chair. These are the worshipers I’m seeking. I want to abide here.”
Old Testament saints didn’t have the Spirit within. They only had the Spirit upon. When the Spirit came upon them, they could only worship God in the flesh. We see that in Second Samuel 6:14 (NLT): “David danced before the Lord with all his might.”
Jesus said in John 4:23 (NLT), “The time is coming—indeed it’s here now. . . .” Today, we have the Spirit within.
Our spirit within us worships God spirit to Spirit—in spirit and in truth. Tremendous power is made available when we worship spirit to Spirit. Unfortunately, we don’t always worship that way. People are worshiping God in the flesh, and that’s not who He is looking for.
We have to create an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to come in. I’m so tired of people putting Him in a box. I like to laugh, run, and dance as much as the next person. But that is not the only way the Holy Spirit moves.
It grieves the Holy Spirit when we say He has to move a certain way. How about we go to church and worship God spirit to Spirit? And however He shows up and moves, that is how He moves.
I’m convinced we have not seen some moves of the Holy Spirit because we’ve never let them happen. We’ve been putting Him in a box and limiting Him to move only in ways we have seen in the past.
But if we shatter that box and get into God’s presence and worship Him in spirit and in truth, He will do things we have never seen that will blow our minds.
Denise Hagin Burns
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