The Surprising Power of Praise
We worship God because he is worthy of our adoration and because giving him glory is the main purpose for which we were designed. But there is a by-product of praise that is thrilling to contemplate. Praising God unleashes power in our lives and into our world. Singing of God’s greatness is a powerful weapon in our spiritual war against the forces of evil.
Psalm 8:2 says, “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a
stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Though this is a challenging verse to translate, it seems to reveal a fascinating truth about the power of praise. Children and infants exemplify extreme human weakness. Babies are the frailest members of our race. But this verse implies that praising God is so powerful that, when even the weakest among us adore the Lord, the enemy of God’s people has no choice but to shut his mouth. In other words, praising God is a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare.
King Jehoshaphat understood this. When attacked by an army much larger than his, he sent his soldiers out to battle with a choir marching at the front of the line. They repeatedly sang, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 20:22 says, “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the [enemy armies] who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” The enemy was defeated through praise.
Paul and Silas also witnessed the power of praise. Shackled at midnight in a Philippian dungeon for preaching the gospel, they began to pray and worship the Lord with song. As they were singing, Acts 16:26 says, “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” As if this miracle weren’t big enough, God performed one that was even bigger. The same jailer who had locked these missionaries in prison was so overwhelmed by what he saw that he was converted to faith in Christ that very night. Again, spiritual power was unleashed through praise.
When we sing to the Lord and praise him for his goodness, we should expect that, in mysterious ways we cannot understand, God will work through our worship to bring his victory to this world. We should also expect the enemy of our souls to flee. Pastor and author John Piper said, “Satan hates the songs of God's people. He does his best to keep a church from being a singing church. And he does his best to keep you from being a singing person.... Satan cannot endure the spiritual songs of the saints. You can fight him with song.... We have two great weapons in worship: the Word of God and song. So let us give heed to the Word of God and let us sing with all our heart.”
Other Christians through the years have expressed similar ideas. Martin Luther said, “Music is a fair and lovely gift of God which has often wakened and moved me to the joy of preaching …. Music drives away the Devil and makes people [happy]…. Next after theology I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor.” Mary Slessor, the great missionary, when faced with demonic opposition to her work would often respond by singing to God. She frequently said, “I sing the Doxology and dismiss the devil.” Missionary Amy Carmichael said, “I believe truly that Satan cannot endure praise and worship and so he slips out of the room, more or less, when there is true song.”
I encourage you to enter 2019 singing – in your private times of prayer and as you gather with others at church. Sing of God’s majesty and goodness. Sing because your Lord deserves it. Sing because your heart needs it. And sing that God’s power might work through your praise.