PRAISE AND VICTORY
We have seen that our praise is a sacrifice. But there is more. We have to see that praising is the way to overcome spiritual attacks. Many people say that Satan is afraid of the prayers of Gods children; he flees whenever Gods children kneel down to pray. This is why he often attacks Gods children and frustrates them from praying. This is a common attack. But we will point out another fact: Satans greatest attacks are not aimed at prayers; his greatest attacks are aimed at praise. This does not mean that Satan does not attack prayers. The moment a Christian prays, Satan begins to attack. It is very easy to talk to people, but the moment one prays, Satan comes with problems. He will make one feel that it is hard to pray. This is a fact. But Satan does not attack just prayer; he also attacks the praise of Gods children. The ultimate goal of Satan is to stop all praises to God. Prayer is a warfare, but praise is a victory. Prayer signifies spiritual warfare, but praise signifies spiritual victory. Whenever we praise, Satan flees. Therefore, Satan hates our praising the most. He will use all his strength to stop our praising. Gods children are foolish if they stop praising when they suffer under adverse environments and downtrodden feelings. But as they come to know God more, they will find that even a Philippian jail can become a place of songs (Acts 16:25). Paul and Silas were praising God inside the jail cell. Their praise broke loose all the jail doors.
Jail doors were opened twice in Acts. Once they were opened to Peter and once to Paul. In Peters case, the church prayed fervently for him, and an angel opened the door and brought him out (12:3-12). In Pauls case, he and Silas sang hymns of praise to God, and all the doors opened and the chains broke. The jailer believed in the Lord on that day, and his whole family was saved in a joyful way (16:19-34). Paul and Silas offered the sacrifice of praise in the jail. The wounds on their bodies were not yet healed; their pain was not soothed. Their feet were in the stocks, and they were shut in an inner jail of the Roman Empire. What was there to be joyful about? What was there to sing about? But there were two persons with transcendent spirits, who had surpassed everything. They saw that God was still sitting in the heavens; He had not changed at all. They themselves might have changed, their environment might have changed, their feelings might have changed, and their bodies might have been suffering, but God was still sitting on the throne. He was still worthy of their blessings. Our brothers, Paul and Silas, were praying, singing, and praising God. This kind of praise, which arises out of pain and loss, is a sacrifice of praise. This kind of praise is a victory.
When you pray, you are still in the midst of your situation. But when you praise, you soar above your situation. While you are praying and pleading, you are bound by your affairs; you are not out of them. The more you plead, the more you find yourself bound and pressed. But if God takes you above the jail, the chains, the painful wounds on the body, the suffering, and the shame, you will offer praises to His name. Paul and Silas sang hymns. They sang praises to God. They were brought by God to the point where the jail, the shame, and the pain were no longer a problem to them. They could praise God. When they praised in such a way, the doors of the jail opened, the chains fell off, and even the jailer was saved.
Many times praise works where prayer fails. This is a very basic principle. If you cannot pray, why not praise? The Lord has placed another item in your hands for your victory and for you to boast in victory. Whenever you run out of strength to pray and you find your spirit heavily oppressed, wounded, or sagging, praise Him. If you cannot pray, try to praise. We invariably think that we should pray when the burden is heavy and praise when the burden is over. But please bear in mind that there are times when the burden is so heavy that you cannot pray. That is the time for you to praise. We do not praise when there is no burden; we praise when the burden becomes too heavy. When you encounter unusual circumstances and problems and are bewildered and feel like collapsing, just remember one thing, Why not praise? Here is a golden opportunity. If you offer your praise at that moment, Gods Spirit will operate in you, open all the doors, and break all the chains.
We need to learn to maintain this lofty spirit, this spirit that surpasses all attacks. Prayers may not bring us to the throne, but praise surely brings us to the throne at any time. Prayers may not enable us to overcome every time, but praise does not fail even once. Gods children should open their mouths to praise Him, not only when they are free from problems, hurts, wounds, or difficulties, but even more when there are problems and wounds. When one lifts up his head in these situations and says, Lord, I praise You, his eyes may be filled with tears, but his mouth will be filled with praise. His heart may be in pain, but his spirit will still praise. His spirit will soar as high as his praise. He can ascend with his praises. Those who murmur are foolish. The more they murmur, the more they are buried under their murmurings. The more they complain, the more they sink into their complaints. The more they allow their problems to overtake them, the more exhausted they become. Many people seem to be a little more aggressive; they pray when they have problems. They strive and struggle to get out of their situations. Even though their circumstances and wounds try to bury them, they are not willing to be buried, and they try to get out by prayers. They often do manage to get out by praying. But there are also times when prayer does not work. Nothing seems to be able to deliver them until they praise. You need to offer up the sacrifice of praise. This means you need to consider praise a sacrifice and offer it up to God. When you put yourself in such an overcoming position, you immediately transcend everything, and no problem will be able to bury you. Sometimes you may feel that something is trying to run you over. But as soon as you praise, you will come out of your depression.
Let us look at 2 Chronicles 20:20-22. And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. Here was a battle. The nation of Judah was coming to an end at the time of Jehoshaphats rule. It was very weak; everything was in a state of shambles. The Moabites, Ammonites, and the people of Mount Seir came to invade Judah. Judah was completely in despair; they felt that defeat was certain. Jehoshaphat was a revived king and a God-fearing person. Of course, none of the last kings of Judah was perfect, but nevertheless, Jehoshaphat was a person seeking after God. He told Judah to believe in God. What did he do? He appointed singers to sing praises to Jehovah. He also asked these ones to praise the beauty of holiness and to walk out before the army and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. Please note the words when they began in the following verse. It is a very precious word. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir. When they began means at that very moment. When everyone was singing praises to Jehovah, He rose to smite the Ammonites, Moabites, and the people of Mount Seir. Nothing moves the Lords hand as quickly as praise. Prayer is not the fastest way to move the Lords hand; praise is the fastest way. Please do not misunderstand that we do not have to pray. We need to pray, and we need to pray every day. However, we can overcome many things only by praising.
Here we see that spiritual victory does not depend on warfare but on praising. We need to learn to overcome Satan by our praise. We overcome Satan not only by prayer but also by praise. Many people are conscious of Satans ferocity and their own weaknesses, and they resolve to struggle and pray. However, we find a very unique principle here: Spiritual victory does not depend on warfare but on praise. Gods children often are tempted to think that their problems are too big and that they have to find some way to deal with their problems. They pay much attention to finding a way to overcome. But the more they try to come up with a way, the harder it is for them to overcome. In doing so, they put themselves on Satans level. They are both in the battle; Satan is fighting on one side, and they are fighting on the other side. It is not easy to win from this position. But 2 Chronicles 20 gives a different picture. On one side was the army, and on the other side was the singing of hymns. These ones either had great faith in God, or they were crazy. Thank God, we are not crazy people. We are those who have faith in God.
Many of Gods children are under severe trials; they are frequently tested. When the trials become severe and the warfare turns fierce, they are like Jehoshaphat. They are shut in by their trouble. One side is too strong, and the other side too weak; there is no comparison between the two. They are trapped inside the whirling wind. Their problems are too great and beyond their ability to overcome. At such times, it is easy for them to turn their attention to their problems; it is easy for their eyes to be set on their own difficulties. The more a man goes through trials, the easier it is for him to be bound by his problems. This becomes a great time of testing. The greatest test comes when he looks at himself or his environment. The more a man is tested, the more he tends to look at himself or his environment. But for those who know God, the more they are tested, the more they put their trust in the Lord. The more they are tested, the more they learn to praise. Therefore, we must learn not to set our eyes on ourselves. We must learn to set our eyes on the Lord. We should lift up our heads and tell the Lord, You are above everything; I praise You! Loud praises, praises that issue from the heart, and the praises that flow out of wounded feelings are the sacrifices of praise pleasing and acceptable to God. Once the sacrifice of praise ascends to God, the enemy, Satan, is defeated by the praise. The sacrifice of praise is very effective before God. Let your loftiest praises burst forth to God, and you will surely withstand and overcome. When you praise, you will find the way of victory opening wide before your eyes!
New believers should not think that they have to pass through many years before they can learn the lesson of praise. They should realize that they can start praising immediately. Every time you encounter a problem, you should pray for mercy that you would stop manipulating and plotting and that you would learn the lesson of praising instead. Much warfare can be won by praise. Many battles are lost because of the lack of praise. If you believe in God, you can tell the Lord in the midst of your problems, I praise Your name. You are higher than everything. You are stronger than everything. Your lovingkindness endures forever! A person who praises God transcends everything. He overcomes continually by his praise. This is a principle, and this is also a fact.