Nwachukwu Appolonia U.
Praise and worship are two words with different meaning but are interwoven in application and practice. Praise entails giving thanks and expression of gratitude for favors received, proclamation of the goodness and loving kindness of God; (psalm 91:2). While worship is the expression of our deepest regard for the beauty, quality of power and his greatness in humble adoration (latria). It is also a means by which we express our deepest love for God. Worship is encompassing and praise is an aspect of worship. In worship, we offer sacrifice, substance and our own self; prayer and breaking of the bread /word. In this context, we shall be viewing praise and worship from the aspect of offering the fruit of our lips and hearts to God (Heb 13:15) through singing.
Praise or worship is God’s favorite love and part of our mandate as his children (psalm 69:30-31; psalm 150:6). It is an aspect of our Christian worship that involves the offerings of our hearts and the fruits of our lips to almighty God. Among other aspects of worship such as prayer, material sacrifice etc. praise and worship takes the prime of place and it is premised on the fact that in it, we do not just offer the product of our voices, but our own selves and this is the climax of worship. It also gladdens God the most and attracts much blessings and grace to worshippers. This article is a highlighter to the power that accompanied praise and worship and the will of God for his children in this respect. This will enable us re-direct our steps right on both communal and individual worship sections.
Unfortunately, praise or worship is gradually expiring in both our communal and individual worship as Christians. Our Christian gatherings are dominated with baseless predictions prophecy, war fare and deliverance prayers, entertainment, comedies, fund raising (donations) and the likes. This accounts partly why heaven is scarcely opened to us for the rain of God’s power. Hence the limited manifestations of true miracles especially, that of divine encounter that turns sinners to saints. Consequent upon this, the souls of worshipers are not drawn to God. Also many are tempted to employ demonic energy for miracles and God is not glorified.
In the light of this, our personal altars and Christian assemblies should be dominated with praise and worship. Conversely, and perhaps unknown to Christians, praise worship, is losing emphasis in our gatherings for other ephemeral things. This situation is prevalent across all denominations.
ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE PRAISE AND WORSHIP
The following elements must be present in our praise and worship to make it genuine and acceptable to God.
Many praise for varied reasons: To gratify their fleshly desire and pamper their ego; for some, singing and dancing is to win the approval of men and that is why they trample on others to appear or raise their voices higher in their worship time. God is the focal point of praise and worship. This is why the psalmist stresses “not to us, not us lord but unto they name give glory for your mercy and the truth (psalm 115:1). See also Isaiah 42:8 I am the lord, that is my name, my glory will I not give to another neither my praise to graven images.
It must be heartfelt: Our praise and worship must come from our hearts otherwise it is not genuine. When we dont mean what we say, we simply babble and God doesnt accept such. The heart is the center of affection and the point of contact between men and God. Matt. 15:8-19 describes them as hypocrites whose worship is a mere mouth and lips services and thereby amounting to vanity. See also john 4:23-24.
It must come from a humble, grateful and joyful hear (Psalm 100:2, Ps 9:2): Effective praise comes from a grateful and joyful heart that is devoid of anger and grumbling. Gratitude is an important virtue that brings us closer to God. It must be done with understanding (Psalm 47:7). We need to have a reasonable understanding of the person of God that is, his name, attribute, his power, deeds etc to be able to worship him rightfully and according to his will. As the saying goes “who no know God call am small boy”
This explains why we all need a personal encounter with God. We worship God better, based on revelation and personal experience otherwise we worship amiss. See Acts 17: 16-28. The Atheaus worshiped in error for lack of understanding. People sing, commit fallacy and blunder in the name of worship. This informs why we should try to be conversant with the word of God as it will spare us from worshiping in error. True worship must be addressed and directed to the true God.
God had revealed himself, his name, his traits, his deeds to humans by his word and individual encounters. These revelations shall form the basis of our worship. Here are some revelational names and character of God that could be insightful to us for quality praise worship: The I am I am EX 3:14, the LORD of lords Rev 19:16, the sovereign lord of all Isaiah 45:6, Alpha and omega: Rev 22:13, Everlasting father, counselor and mighty God: Isaiah 9:6, 10:21, Ancient of days: Dan 7:1 God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: Exod 3:15, Omnipotent: Rev 19:8 The man of war. Exod: 3:15, Lion of the tribe of Judea Rev: 5:5, Unchangeable Mal 3:16, Healer Exod. 15:26 etc.
Many go about mentioning names that have no bearing with the true God. The same is applicable to the type of songs some employ in worship. There are pit of hell gospel music composers who are money and fame conscious. It floods the industry with coded demonic songs in the name of gospel songs. In this regard, discernment is all you need as a child of God to choose wisely for effective worship. Always allow the spirit of God to take the lead in every of your attempt to praise and worship the Lord. Below are some bible based praise and worship songs that we could employ and in addition to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our lives to worship better: Magnificent (Luke 1:46-55), Who is like unto thee? (ex 15:11), O lord, my God, how excellent is your name (ps 8:1-9), There is none holy as the lord etc (1sam 2:1-10) etc. We should also cease from using unfamiliar languages in our worship. We may be doing the opposite when we have no proper command of the language we use.
Holiness and purity of heart is required: It is not enough to be humble grateful or joyful in worship. Holiness is a catalyst to the efficacy of every spiritual function we embark upon (See Isaiah 59:1-15). When we stir up troubles, tell lies, pervert justice, steal, fornicate, backbite and keep malice, our worship becomes worthless and unacceptable to God. We have been instructed that the inscription of God upon his people is holiness and we that they call upon his name shall depart from iniquity (2Tim 2:19) in all, sin is a serious barrier to effective praise / worship.
You must be skillful and orderly: This enables us to offer beautiful praise / worship to our God. When you sing with wrong key or in a disorganized way, it could displease God. This humble advice is deduced from the orderliness in heaven. The living creatures, 24 elders in heaven and the angels worship in an orderly manner and it is good we learn from them.
Approaches to Praise and Worship
- Declaration/ proclamation. Heb 13:15
- Clapping (psalm 47:1)
- Musical instrumentation and dancing (psalm 150:4)
- Being still (psalm 4: 3-5, 46:10
POWER OF PRAISE AND WORSHIP
Praise and worship is a very potent instrument that God has graciously given to mankind. The power and benefits associated with these acts is unquantifiable and innumerable. Nevertheless, we shall try to encapsulate them in 5 subheadings:
It gives us free access to the domain of God (Psalm, 100:4, psalm 89:15): The joyful sound of praise worship ushers us in the light of God’s presence where there is fullness of joy and liberty. In fact where everything is possible, nothing constitutes barrier when one is going by praise worship. Thanks move you to his gate while praise brings you directly to his presence. Again, God’s presence can be brought down to any location of one’s choice by praise and worship. (Ps 22:3)
God confers divine authority on worshippers: After the death of Joshua, it was like all hope were lost and the Israelites inquired of the lord of who shall go to confront the Canaanites first. God told them that he had already ordained Judah (praise) for the mandate and had also delivered the land into his hands. So divine authority for every operation is possible with praise-worship. Where the strong and mighty cannot go, praise can.
Grace and authority for soul winning comes by praise worship (Matt 28:16-20). As the disciples worshiped before the Lord, he commissioned them for evangelization.
It brings about revelation: The mind of God is revealed to humans by praise and worship. When Moabite rebelled against Israel, the Israelites king in union with Edom and Judah agreed to combat them by building a kind of synergy. As they began their journey of seven days, in the wilderness, they found no water both for them and their castles. They imagined if the lord had called them out to deliver them to the hands of Moab. They thought it wise to inquire of the lord the way they should go and it occurred to them that Elisha was there. As he played, the finger of the Lord rested on Elisha and he gave the prophecy in favor of them and eventually, the Moabites where smitten by them. (I Sam 3:1-end). In 1sam 10:5, after Samuel had anointed some, he gave his first prophecy as he met with a company of prophets with musical instruments.
Healing and deliverance from all forms of satanic bondage: As they began to pray and sing, it brought about an earthquake through which they were delivered (Acts 16:23:26). In another instance, immediately David was anointed king, the spirit of the Lord left Saul for an evil spirit to torment him. A suggestion was made to Saul, that a skillful player should be brought to him for his healing which was premised upon the fact that demons doesn’t withstand even the instrument of music and let alone a good praise worshiper (1sam 16:14-23).
It breaks barriers and pulls down strongholds makes way (Josh.6:1-20). Praise is like a hammer that breaks barriers and strong holds of the enemies and thereby making ways for the children of God to move to their destinies. As the news went abroad that God had dried up the red sea for the Israelites to Passover, all the neighboring kings’ lost courage. Hence Jericho was shut up because of the children of Israel in other to restrict them. God instructed Joshua that the solution lies in just seven trumpets of rams horns and a great shout (shout of praise and worship) on the seven days. As they complied with this instruction and before their very eyes the walls of Jericho fell down flat.
Victory in every battle: Instances where battles were won by praise / worship abound and even in our present dispensation. God picks up every battle when he is praised and there’s no lose battle associated with him. It was when the king Jehoshaphat appointed singers began to praise and worship that the Lord laid ambush against their enemies and smote them by their own swords and none escaped. As you are making up your mind to sing and worship the lord, none of your enemies shall escape the Lord’s sword in Jesus name, amen. God did it in the past, he is doing same today and we are living testimonies (Ps 18:3).
It brings about intimacy with God (Psalm 22:3): Since God inhabits the praises of his people, he lives and communes with whoever has praise worship as a life style. Hence all praise worshippers are good friends of God. For instance, the praise, humble and adoring heart of David is among has gained him a man after God’s own heart.
Effective for soul winning: In Acts 16, the prison guards were converted by the miracle that accompanied the praise and worship of Paul and Silas. Also, as the disciples worshiped the Lord he gave them a mandate for soul winning. Even in this very era, praise worship is the fastest means of attracting souls to Christian functions like crusade, revival and other outreach media where the gospel is preached to their hearing. More so, gospel preached by singing penetrates the heart easily than talking. This is the reason some preachers allow background chants during the word ministration.
This write up is not exhaustive of all the power and benefit associated with praise and worship. It is not also an overstatement to say that everything is possible with praise. The world is a war front for every believer in Christ Jesus and our greatest foe who seeks to pull us down uses our flesh as weapon against us. To this end, God in his infinite mercy has giving us praise as our effective and efficient weapon over the enemy and his wiles. No wonder in 2cor 10:4, it is written that “the weapons of warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds”. Hence we are indestructible with praise and worship of our God. Praise the Lord! Alleluia!