Authored by Steve Hearts
When hearing the word “praise” in a spiritual context many of us might associate it with worship in a church service, or perhaps even personal gratitude to Jesus. And we wouldn’t be wrong; this is no doubt praising God. But the act of praising goes much further and deeper than that.
Praise is commonly defined as to “express warm approval or admiration of.”1 But as I see it, when we praise the Lord, be it in word, in song, or however we choose to do it, we are expressing more than simple approval or admiration. We are expressing genuine thankfulness and gratitude to the Lord—and this genuine gratefulness is something we offer at all times.
It’s easy to be genuinely grateful when things are going well for us. But a quote I committed to memory when I was a child says, “There are two times to praise the Lord. When you feel like it, and when you don’t feel like it.”
“Okay,” we may say, “but where exactly does the Bible say that we should praise the Lord even when we don’t feel like it?”
The great king and psalmist, David, wrote, “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”2
Can blessing the Lord at all times mean only blessing or praising him during the “good” times?
Habakkuk 3:17–18 says, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior.”3
It’s perfectly natural not to feel like praising the Lord in unpleasant or painful circumstances—to some, it may even seem harsh, cruel, or unreasonable. But in doing so, we manifest our faith in God to work in those situations and bring about His will.
Merlin Carothers repeatedly touches on this point in his two books, “Prison to Praise” and “Power in Praise.”
When I first read through those books, I viewed the message as … interesting and perhaps nice to review from time to time. However, the message came to life for me when one day I hit upon a painful spot in my life. This experience left me devastated, and I had no idea how I’d pull through.
Desperate for something to hang on to, I dug through these books once again. As I read the biblical examples and present-day testimonies of how lives and situations were drastically changed by the simple act of praising, I knew I had found an effective remedy for my pain. It became clear to me that although I had no way of knowing how God would improve my situation, I could be assured that He would somehow work it out for good if I’d simply praise Him in every circumstance, no matter how difficult.
Simple as this sounded in theory, I knew it would be tougher to do, and that I would need some steel determination to act on it. But I was willing to put in the effort, knowing that the only other option was defeat and continued depression.
I told the Lord over and over that I was thankful for the loss He’d allowed me to experience. At first it felt as if I was going through the motions saying those words of praise to God, but the more I stuck with it, the more I became genuinely thankful for the good I was beginning to see come through this circumstance.
Although the fight between my natural mind and the mind of God was intense at times, I continued to praise the Lord. Although the physical circumstances did not change, my attitude toward them changed drastically as I saw myself growing closer to the Lord and climbing to peaks of peace and happiness that had previously seemed beyond my reach.
Just as Jonah was spit out of the belly of the whale after praising the Lord, which, I’m sure, was the last thing he felt like doing, I too was lifted out of the pit of sorrow and heartbreak, straight into the Lord’s presence, which was becoming more and more tangible each day.4
I was inspired to share with others the amazing results of this “praise power” and motivate them to put it into action in their own lives. Many did—and as a result, their lives were miraculously transformed.
For instance, I met a woman who was in much deeper than I’d ever been as far as difficulties go. Her brother had recently died a tragic death. Although she loved the Lord, deep down inside, this painful incident had caused her to feel resentful toward God. Furthermore, her relationship with her fiancé was strained.
I told her of how my life was changing, and I sent her a copy of “Power in Praise,” and encouraged her to study it carefully and see how she could apply it to her life.
She, too, began to praise God through the pain she was going through, as well as the difficulties with her fiancé. She soon felt the presence of the Lord comforting her and gradually forsook her feelings of resentment and grew closer to Him. It also strengthened her relationship with her fiancé, and now they are happily married and growing in their faith together.
It’s easy to feel resentful toward God when unfair, and even downright cruel, circumstances occur, but resentment blocks the flow of God’s power in our lives.
Last year, my praise life came to a standstill when my dad lost sight in his right eye due to a retinal detachment which the surgeons were unable to correctly repair. We laid hands on my dad’s eye, earnestly claiming God’s healing—but nothing changed.
To me, it seemed unfair that while I had prayed for so many others to be healed and had seen those prayers wonderfully answered, our prayers for my dad seemed to go unheard. Was God getting selective on me? What was the deal?
From then on, for a little over a year, I limped through my life of service for the Lord—going about my ministry with a sense of duty rather than out of a genuine love for Him. I soured on praying for people to be healed. God’s power was severely blocked in my life, and I knew it.
When I finally forsook my feelings of resentment and ill-will toward God, and began to praise Him from my heart, He asked me if I’d be willing to step out once more and pray for the sick to be healed.
I agreed, and almost immediately, I received an e-mail from a friend in another country, informing me that he’d been diagnosed with lymphoma and was in need of urgent treatment.
Over the phone, I talked to him and his wife about the power of giving thanks in everything.5 I also encouraged them to put this challenging, yet effective, principle into action. They began to consistently thank God through the shocking diagnosis, and this filled them with an increased peace and certainty that He was in control.
I also prayed for my friend over the phone, thanking the Lord for allowing this situation in his life and working things out for good. Then I prayed that God would walk with him through the treatment and that the cancer would leave his body.
About a month later, after my friend’s first chemotherapy treatment, I received another e-mail from him, bearing the news that tests had shown that the cancer was now gone!
Are you looking for a remedy for your pain, discouragement, or despair? Keep your hands, and most of all, your heart, raised in praise to the Lord, and you will in turn be raised to higher ground. Don’t allow the seeming hopelessness of your situation to keep you from praising God.
As the song, “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns goes:
“And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands.
For You are who You are,
No matter where I am.
And every tear I’ve cried,
You hold in your hand.
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm.”
1 Oxford Dictionary, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/praise 2 Psalm 34:1 KJV
3 New International Version
4 See Jonah chapter 2
5 See 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International