What is praise?
Some people think that prayer and praise are the same thing, and sometimes they can be the same; but what is praise? If you were to poll a church body, you would get a plethora of answers. Some say it is something that we engage in in a church service prior to the preaching, to set the tone of the service. Some may say it is more personal, saying that, “I’ll praise Him,” because God has moved on their behalf. All of those are good reasons to praise the Lord.
Hebrews 13:15 (KJV) - "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually..."
Doesn’t this sound familiar? Aren’t we to pray continually? Now we are to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. Just like prayer is a lifestyle, so praise is a lifestyle. This shows us that we are up and down in God, and the book of Revelation talks about that being lukewarm.
Praise is a part of your life – like breathing is to your flesh, prayer and praise is to your spirit. What happens if you stop breathing? You’ll eventually die.
Praise is a Sacrifice
The reason people may give so many answers to define praise is because they are making it about what they think praise is; but if you understand the sacrifice of praise, you’ll see the true meaning. The word sacrifice is the word thysia (g2378) meaning “an official sacrifice prescribed by God, hence an offering the Lord accepts because it is offered under His terms.” A sacrifice is something offered under His terms, not ours. Many times we offer up a praise based on how we feel. Some may say that sacrifices were done away with in the New Covenant, but this is a New Testament scripture. The same term can be used in animal sacrifices, but Jesus was one sacrifice for all, so no more blood sacrifices; but we still have to do sacrifices of praise and we are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1)
The moment you understand that, under God’s Word, you are to continually have a sacrifice of praise, and offer that unto God, and He has a specific way that that is to be done, then it takes you out of the equation, and do it the way He wants it.
Some people may say, “I don’t believe in dancing and raising your hands, that’s just not me.” When was it ever about you to begin with? It has nothing to do with who you are, it’s about what God wants. You may not be a dancer, but if God asks you to dance, you had better dance. It’s not about what you want – it has never been about what you want – it is a sacrifice of praise. He wants it continually. How do we know what He wants? He wrote a whole book of praise called the Psalms.
Psalm 134:2 (KJV) - "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord
Praise is about what He requires
This is more about what God wants than what you want. I will tell you that your flesh doesn’t want to lift it up because your sin nature doesn’t want to praise God – it wants to go to Hell; but Jesus stepped in and washed and redeemed you and said, “Now you have something to praise about, so lift up your hands in the sanctuary.” -
Psalm 141:2 (NASB) - "May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering."
Lamentations 3:41 (NASB) - "We lift up our heart and hands Toward god in Heaven;"
It’s not about just lifting up your hands, but you lift up your heart toward God and the hands will follow the heart. If your heart gets locked on Heaven, your hands will follow. Praise is not mechanics – it is a flow.
1 Timothy 2:8 (NASB) - "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension."
When you want something to eat, and you send someone out to get it, aren’t you very specific about how you want it? What if they just ignored your instructions and blobbed a bunch of stuff together, what would you say? “Take it back. I don’t want it.” What do you think God is saying when you just randomly give Him a half-hearted praise? “Take it back!” We should have a praise that is worthy to be offered to Him. It is a state of being, you live in a state of praise just like you live in a state of prayer.
Psalm 63:4 (KJV) - "Thus I will bless thee while I live; I will lift up my hands in thy name."
What about dancing while you praise? Is it scriptural?
Psalm 149:1-3 (KJV) - "Praise ye the Lord, sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in the dance..."
Does everyone agree that we sing songs and hymns to praise God? Of course. “Well,” you say, “I don’t know how to dance.” Learn how. Let the Spirit of God teach you. You have to step out and do something you’ve never done before so God can do something new in your life.
Heaven is our audience, not people. We don’t dance for one another – we dance for the Lord. We don’t sing for one another – we sing for the Lord. We work up a praise that is worthy to give Him.
Praise is a Celebration
Luke 15:25 (NKJV) - "...he heard music and dancing."
The people were praising God because the lost son (prodigal son) had come home. When God does things in ministry to save your soul, there is cause for a celebration. When someone gets won to the Lord, there is praise in Heaven.
Have you heard people say in a dynamic praise and worship service that the music is too much? Some people will actually come late to a service so they don’t have to hear the music? Why do they do this? Because they don’t understand that praise is to be done continually and especially in the congregation of the saints.
Psalm 150:1-5 (KJV) – "Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: Praise him in the firmament of his power. (The next two sentences state why we are to praise Him.) Praise him for His mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. (The next section tells how to praise Him). Praise him with the sound of the trumpet. Praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: You mean that we are supposed to dance when we sing to God? Really? Praise him upon the stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals. Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. "
Some people think that high sounding here means ”high pitched,” but that’s not what that means. When you look at the words high sounding in the Hebrew, it means it is “a shout or blast of war, alarm or joy.” Have you ever heard an alarm that is quiet? No, an alarm is loud because it has to wake you up!
Praise is His Habitation
Why would you need a shout of war in your praise? Psalm 22:3 (KJV) says that He inhabits the praise of His people, and when He inhabits, you become a habitation.
The word loud there means ”to report” -- you are reporting something.
As you are praising God, God is inhabiting you, and you are becoming a habitation of the Lord, you are preparing for war. It’s never about the situation or circumstance; it’s always about the promise. The situation or circumstance is merely the thing standing in the way between you and your promise. Praise is your most powerful weapon!
When Joshua and the people were marching around Jericho, they could have put out their best warriors, but instead, they put praisers out front. Were they trying to entertain the enemy or warm up the people? No. They began to praise until something in the supernatural began to affect the things in the natural, and we couldn’t exactly see it, but it couldn’t be a 30-second praise, or one worship song and sit down on our pew.
Praise is a Weapon!
When you are trying to get to a promise, you have to push a little harder, you have to get your praise out front. You have to sound the alarm for war. Notify your enemy that you are on the premises and you are about to take him down. And you keep praising, and keep praising, and at Jericho it took seven times, but on the seventh time, something in the atmosphere began to change, something began to shake. It was never about the war or the walls; it was about a promise where God said that He will deliver them.
And when they praised, He inhabited their praise.
They became a habitation; they became God’s manifestation from the Heavenly realm to the earthly realm.
They turned their praise to God toward that building, launched a praise missile, and boom! The habitation became a manifestation.
Praise is a weapon!