The One-Two Punch
Clark Beasley serves as Worship Director and is in charge of music for our Sunday morning gatherings. While Clark is passionate about leading others to worship God through music, he is also passionate about God transforming our entire lives to be in worship of Him. Read this month's worship devotion!
While reading through a daily devotion I often pick up, I came across this line ...
"Praise has always been what sustains in times of trouble …"
A profound statement, to be sure, but being the realist that I am (some would say pessimist), I took this statement through its paces. Is it true? Past my own story, are there any other stories that prove this? What are some examples of this in scripture?
And, almost instantaneously, I was reminded of Paul and Silas singing in the prison at midnight, and God came along and released them from their bonds.
Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” Acts 16:25-31 NLT
From this passage, it could be assumed that, because Paul and Silas were praying and praising, God caused an earthquake so that they could be released from their chains. I think that might be a bit of a leap and somewhat presumptuous of us to know what was in the mind of God there. But, there is no denying some key takeaways:
Praise softens our hearts and aligns us with God’s truth and His Spirit working in the moment. Praising God makes our hearts fertile ground to receive the maximum nutrients from God’s word. Praising God turns us away from ourselves to the attention of what the Spirit is doing at that moment.
Praise and prayer are a powerful combination, and they are intricately linked. Praise is not one-way communication. As we worship, God begins to share with us deeper truths and the things His heart really burns for. And when He does that, you will begin to hear Him urge you to intercede. That is the real job of those who lead worship, to connect with the heart of God and intercede for God’s people with that heart.
Prayer and praise have the power to save. Paul and Silas did not know how God was going to move at that moment. Only that they were to praise and pray, and it was that connection to the heart of God that kept them from fleeing when they were freed. They were in tune with God and therefore trusted Him and not their circumstances, and He showed up big time, just not like they probably thought. God used all of that to turn the heart of one prison guard so that man could see the light and power of God and be rescued from his own bondage.
We don’t know what God can do in and through us if and when we praise. Just as Paul would write later in Romans:
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-34, 36 NLT
So, I invite you to try it. Right there—in the middle of work, at home, or in your car—just begin to praise Him for what He has done in your life, and if you can't think of anything, start with what He did on the cross. Let that motivate you to thank Him for all things, small and large, in your life. You don't know what God has in store for every moment you live, not just the pretty, put-together moments. Let God be your, "refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble," (Psalm 46:1) and see Him take and use even the most mundane or difficult moments to accomplish so much in your life!