Once again we want continue to look at this tremendous power that can come into our lives if we learn how to praise God in all situations.
God allows Satan to harass and trouble His children in many ways. Why do you think God allows that? God is wise, and He can destroy Satan in a moment, if He likes. But He doesn’t do it, because He accomplishes something good through it. That is why He has permitted Satan to continue to exist. Fire, for example, is dangerous but fire can purify gold. In the same way, God can use the trials, the persecutions, and the oppression that Satan can bring upon His children, to purify them, just like gold is purified. But we have to react in a proper way, in a good way to those trials and temptations.
The right way to react, if you have faith, is with a spirit of praise: ‘Lord I will not complain here. I am suffering, perhaps I am going through a difficult time, but I will not lose my faith. God is on the throne and the devil is defeated on the cross. My sins are forgiven. My past is blotted out. I am on my way to heaven. Jesus is my Lord; my heavenly bridegroom, and God is making everything work together for my good.’ And when we remain in the spirit of thanksgiving and praise like that, in every situation, you know what happens?
I want show you a wonderful verse in Psalm 50. In Psalm 50:23, we read, ‘‘The one who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honours Me, says the Lord, and makes a way for Me to show him My deliverance.’’ That is the literal translation of that verse that, anyone who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honours God and, in doing that, he makes a way for God to show him God’s deliverance or Salvation. Now what does that mean? It means that if you are in a tight spot right now, and you want God to deliver you from it, you have to make a way for God to show you that deliverance; for God to bring that deliverance. God will do the deliverance, but He cannot do that until you open a way for it and the way we open the way is by praising the Lord.
That is what it says here: ‘The one who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving makes a way for God to bring deliverance in that situation.’ This means that there are many situations out of which we could have been delivered, if we had praised God instead of complaining against people and against the devil – Because praise is the mark of faith. They believed his words, they sang His praise. If you don’t praise God, God can do nothing for you, because you don’t believe Him. ‘Without faith, it is impossible to please God,’ we read in Hebrews. But with faith you can shut the mouth of lions, you can put enemies to flight, you can open prison doors. With faith, people even got their dead children back to life. Faith is a tremendous power and faith is manifested in praise.
Now praying alone cannot deliver us out of some situation. It is good to pray when you are in a tight spot but, in addition to prayer, we must learn how to praise. In other words, we must keep on praying until we reach the point where we don’t have to pray anymore. We have an assurance in our heart, the Holy Spirit gives us a witness in our heart, God has heard our prayer and then, what do you do after that? Supposing you are asking for something and, after sometime, you hear a witness in your spirit that it is been granted, what do you do? Then you praise God, you thank Him. Faith is then born and we believe that we have received, like Jesus said, ‘‘When you pray believe that you have received.’’ You can’t do that at the beginning, but as you continue to pray, you come to a point where you believe that you receive. Even though the answer has not yet come, you can’t see the answer yet, but you praise God and then we will receive what we pray for. When that point comes, we stop praying and start praising God. That is the evidence of faith and then, through that praise, we make a way for the God to show us His deliverance.
Now there is a wonderful example of this in the Old Testament, in 2 Chronicles 20. It is unfortunate that some believers don’t read the Old Testament so much, particularly the Books of Chronicles. They are not so familiar with it. Here is beautiful story where we read of a great multitude of enemies that surrounded King Jehoshaphat. When King Jehoshaphat was surrounded by such a great multitude of enemies, he called the whole nation of Judah too seek God in fasting and prayer. That was absolutely a proper thing to do.
They prayed to God and, in their prayer, they acknowledged three things. You know what they said to God? They acknowledged their helplessness, they acknowledged their foolishness, and then they acknowledged their faith (2 Chr. 20:12). Now these are the three things we need to acknowledge too. It is easy to acknowledge our helplessness and our foolishness, to say, ‘Well Lord, we have got no strength against this situation and we don’t know what to do.’ We can say that in all situations, but nothing happens, if you stop there. You got go on and say, ‘Lord we believe that you will answer us.’
Now notice the prayer that Jehoshaphat prayed, in 2 Chronicles 20:6-12. You see, this is a pattern for prayer, something that we can learn from Jehoshaphat. Notice the seven things he prayed for. First of all, he praised God for His Sovereignty (verse 6). He said, ‘Lord you are the ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations; power and might are in your hand, no one can stand against you.’ You know when we pray to God, it is good to remind ourselves, first of all, of the sovereignty of God. Jesus said, ‘When you pray, say, ‘Our Father,’ and then what, ‘who art in Heaven.’ That means the one who is the sovereign ruler from Heaven.
Then the second thing that Jehoshaphat reminded God and reminded himself of was what God had done in past days. ‘Lord, are You not the one who drove out the Canaanites from this land and You gave it to the descendants of Abraham forever’ (verse 7). See, if we remind ourselves of what God has done for us in the past, then that really stirs our faith. You know, sometimes you are facing a very difficult situation and you feel there is no way out. Why don’t you look back over your life and think of the many, many, many times in your life where you felt that there was no way out, and God made a way out! That stirs up faith in your heart.
Then the third thing we read is that Jehoshaphat reminded God of His promise in His word. He said, ‘Didn’t you say Lord that, if evil comes upon us or the sword and, if we stand before You in this house and cry to You, You will deliver us’ (verse 9). And that is another good thing to have when we are in a tight situation – some promise from the word of God. It could be a simple promise like we have in Psalm 50 which says, ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.’ Say, ‘Lord you promise that’. Do it now. It is good to know the promises of Scriptures. It is good to memorize the promises of God in Scriptures so that you can quote them in prayer. It strengthens faith; it is fuel for faith. You know, it is like putting fuel in the fire, then the fire burns brighter. If you don’t have any promises then the fire of faith burns very low.
Fourthly, we read in verse 11 that he reminded God saying, ‘We are your inheritance.’ We are not just like other people in the world. We are your inheritance, You purchased us. That is the fourth thing we can tell God too. ‘Lord you purchased us on Calvary; the blood of Jesus has purchased me. I am God’s inheritance’. You are God’s inheritance, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Fifthly, he told God, what we already saw: ‘Lord we are powerless, and we are weak’ (verse 12). That is another thing we need to acknowledge. Sometimes we think that we are very strong, but we are actually weak. It is good for us to acknowledge it. Say, ‘Lord, I am weak, I can’t handle the situation, and it is too much for me.’ Then sixthly, in the same verse 12, he said, ‘Lord, not only I am weak, I don’t have any wisdom as to what to do in this situation’. That is also good for us to acknowledge. Instead of thinking that we are clever and capable, say, ‘Lord, I don’t have any wisdom.’ The Bible says in James 1, ‘‘Does anyone like wisdom among you, let him ask God. God will give him liberally’’ (Jas. 1:5). But you got to be humble and say, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to handle this situation.’ Finally, the seventh (this is where you must finish), he said, ‘But our eyes are on you; we are trusting in you.’
Let me go through those seven things. First of all, he praised God for His sovereignty (verse6). Secondly, he reminded himself of what God had done in past days (verse 7). Third, he reminded God of His promise (verse 9). Fourth, he reminded God that we are your inheritance (verse 11) and then in verse 12, he reminded God of three things: first, we have no power to handle this, we have no wisdom, but we are relying on you; we are trusting in you completely.
We read in the rest of that chapter (take time to read it) that the enemies were thoroughly defeated. They went out praising God. They didn’t take any weapons; neither bows nor arrows. They just went our praising the Lord. Jehoshaphat believed God and he sent a choir of people praising God. We read in verse 22, ‘‘As they began singing and praising the Lord,’’ exactly like we saw in Psalm 50:23, the Lord opened the door for them to be delivered and the enemies were defeated. Not only the enemies were defeated, we read later on in that chapter, but that Israel became rich with the wealth of their enemies. This is the secret. Whatever situation you are in, learn to praise God on the foundation of these seven things that I have mentioned and you will find God opens a door for you to be set free.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.