It feels good to praise God. Just thinking about it makes me feel a joy and a fullness inside of me. When I praise God – I mean really praise him – I praise him all out. It’s a sing with my whole voice, lift up my whole hands, shout, jump, weep, laugh kind of praise. And I love it. I love that I get the opportunity to praise him openly and without shame.
If praising God doesn’t light a fire in you to serve him, give to him, spend time to him, read his word, and commit yourself to him, then you’re missing out. And I can’t encourage you enough to dive into why praising God doesn’t leave you overflowing with love – because when it does, you’ll want to praise him all day long. You’ll turn into a modern day David who, although he was the king of an entire nation, danced like a fool in his praise for his heavenly Father.
I recently heard a message about two other awesome praisers in the Bible – Paul and Silas. In Acts 16, Luke writes about Paul and Silas being thrown into prison. For those who may not be familiar with the story, the two men were in Philippi, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. For days, as they traveled through town a demon-possessed woman followed them, shouting. Paul, tired of her antics, shouted, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” And the demonic spirit left her.
This seems like a happy ending. She was set free from demonic possession. Except she was a slave and her owners were using her possession as a pay day. She was working as a psychic, predicting the futures of paying clients. And when her owners found out that Paul had cast out her psychic powers, they falsely accused him of breaking the law and he and Silas were severely beaten and then thrown into prison.
And they were despondent and shouted at the injustice of it!
They called their attorney and threatened to sue the entire city of Philippi!
No, not that either.
They called fire to rain on the city of Philippi and cursed the man who lied!
They were seen as a flight risk, so they were put into the innermost part of the prison and shackled to the ground.
And they praised.
Their bodies were bloodied and beaten.
And they praised.
They were unjustly imprisoned and wrongfully called criminals.
And they praised.
They praised loud. They prayed and praised God so loudly that the other inmates started listening. They heard their words of love and adoration to God. And they had to wonder, what was so great about this God that these men who were shackled to the floor were joyously singing of his goodness? It was after midnight, these men had spent the better part of the day enduring painful beatings, and they were awake praising God with their whole selves.
And there was power in their praise. So much power that an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. It shook the prison so hard that all the doors opened and all the chains came loose. It’s notable that the earthquake did not cause the prison’s walls to cave in or collapse. This violent earthquake, in fact, doesn’t seem to have been noticed by anyone outside of the prison. It’s power was concentrated to opening doors and breaking chains.
But it didn’t just open the doors for Paul and Silas. And it didn’t just break their chains. The Bible says “ALL the prison doors flew open, and EVERYONE’S chains came loose.”
The rest of the people in that prison were not praising God. They probably didn’t even know God. They hadn’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They weren’t wrongfully imprisoned because they were doing the work of the Lord. But STILL their doors flew open and their chains came loose.
Why? Because of the praises of Paul and Silas. Their praise made a path to freedom for those around them.
Your praise can be just as powerful. Maybe it won’t cause a physical earthquake, but your praise can shake circumstances and situations. Your praise can create a path to freedom for those around you.
Your praise isn’t just for you. Praising God is not a solitary act. Your praise is for your family. Your praise is for your friends. Your praise is for your co-workers.
So, the next time you lift your hands in worship or you sing a hymn of adoration, don’t be selfish. Go all in on that praise. Praise until the prison doors open and your daughter, your husband, your best friend gets that path to freedom.
Praise until the chains fall off – of you, your aunt with an undiagnosed illness, your colleague who struggles with infertility, your neighbor who just lost her job.
Praise until that praise is so powerful that the walls of your building cannot contain it. Praise for God. Praise for yourself. Praise for everyone else.