The Psalms tell us to offer the Lord a “sacrifice” of praise. Why use the word “sacrifice”? We all understand sacrificing money, time, etc.
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25)
While Paul and Silas were praising God the earth shook! Praising God opens doors, breaks chains, and transforms hearts. There is real power in praising God. I also know there are times when our human body resists the surrender required to truly praise Him. We don’t “feel” like praising, following our feelings frequently steer us down the wrong path. We need to ignore feelings and praise Him anyway. It then becomes an act of our will and is what Scripture describes as a “sacrifice” of praise. As we praise Him, we begin to sense His presence. Once we sense God’s presence, everything in us wants to praise Him more.
Consider Paul and Silas again. They had no real hope. Although the church was praying for them, there were no indications that they would be released. They expected to die in that prison. Their singing was not about rejoicing over their circumstances. They were simply praising God for who He is and thanking Him for their Savior.
“…and the prisoners heard them.”
The prisoners were “listening” to Paul and Silas praise God. Sometimes people don’t have the opportunity to witness your lifestyle as a Christ follower, but the praise you give to others along with a thankful attitude will make an impact on them. You don’t have to spend much time with someone to determine whether they are a positive or negative person. The prisoners listening to Paul and Silas experienced positive praise – two men trusting God to respond to their circumstances. Any time we praise God in spite of our circumstances, the forces of heaven come to rescue us.
“I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).
Scripture also makes it clear that we are to praise Him all the time and regardless of feelings. It is so easy to praise God in response to His mercy, kindness and answered prayer. Sometimes praise needs to be an act of our will. Praising Him in tough times is when it becomes sacrificial. This kind of praise breaks God’s loving heart.
When we are up against a wall, we need to praise Him. When life is chaotic, when the rational mind begins to doubt, when the doctor’s report is devastating, praise Him. Let’s keep our eyes on the “Lord of circumstances” and we will move from weakness to strength.