Early on in my Christian walk, I always thought of ‘praise and worship’ as something we do on a Sunday before the preach. We praise God by singing upbeat praise songs and then we transition into worship, marked by slower, reverent, adoring songs to God. However, I soon realised that it is so much more than that. In this blog, I am going to share much of what I have learnt from Derek Prince’s teachings on ‘Praise and Worship.’ He expresses so well what I want to share.
Praise and worship, and may I add the third component – thanksgiving, are three gifts we bring to God. Picture the tabernacle in the Old Testament. In Psalm 100:4, David says “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise give thanks to him and praise his name.” It seems that David is using the image of the tabernacle to show us how to enter the presence of God. We enter his ‘gates with thanksgiving.’ When we thank God, we are focusing on his goodness.
Now picture the next section of the tabernacle, the outer courts. We enter his courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). When we praise God, we celebrate his greatness. Derek Prince says, “Praise is a golden thread that runs from the beginning to the end of the entire Bible. Praise is eternal; its origin is in heaven. It is the ceaseless occupation of all the glorious and eternal beings that inhabit heaven.” He also states that “praise is the appropriate way in which we relate to God as a king on his throne. When we praise God, he takes his place as king on the throne of our praises.” God doesn’t need us to praise Him (he is self-sufficient) but He loves it when we praise Him and he knows how much we need to know him and praise Him. Praise brings us into His presence, and reveals even more how awesome He is. Praise is the appropriate response to God’s incredible blessings. Psalms 8:2 say: “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”
There is no age limit to praising God. We can teach our children from a young age to praise God.
In 2 Chronicles 20, we see how the Moabites and the Ammonites came against the tribe of Judah in battle. God told King Jehoshaphat through the prophet Jahaziel: “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s...” (2 Chronicles 20:15). Jehoshaphat got the people to fast and pray, and on the day of battle, he sent the worshippers out in front of the army; as they sang praises to God, God caused their enemies to turn on one another. God miraculously fought on their behalf. Not only that, it took them three days to collect all the plunder. God not only won the battle for them, but blessed them far more than they could ever have imagined.
In the New Testament, we see another example of the power of praise in Acts 16. Here, Paul and Silas were imprisoned after being severely flogged. Acts 16:25-26 says the following: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 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.” When we praise God, He acts on our behalf. Praise takes our eyes off ourselves, our situation, or challenges, and places our eyes on our almighty God. We realise that without Him, we are nothing.
When we look at the outer court of the tabernacle, the main object there was the sacrificial altar. Here we are reminded of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, on the cross, so that we could be reconciled to God and have access into his very presence. The altar is also the place where we become a ‘living sacrifice’ (Romans 12:1). Paul calls this our ‘true and proper worship to God,’ and God sees it as ‘holy and pleasing.’ It is in this state of mind and attitude of heart that we transition into worship.
So, to conclude the picture of the tabernacle, from the courts we go into the Holy Place and then into the Holy of Holies. What is significant here is that Jesus made the way for us to enter the Holy of Holies by his death on the cross. The curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies tore from the top to the bottom when Jesus breathed his last. It is here where worship happens. Thanksgiving and praise can be given to anyone, but worship is reserved for God alone. Only God is worthy of my worship because only God is holy. Worship is an attitude of the heart. Worship relates to God’s holiness.
Let’s look at attitudes associated with worship in scripture. The first one is to bow your head or upper body. It is also expressed with arms raised and palms facing upwards, an attitude of expectancy for God to act as in Psalm 143:6: “I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.” Another attitude of worship is to kneel, as in Psalm 95:6: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker….” In Hebrew, the word ‘kneel’ or ‘knee’ is directly related to the word ‘bless’, in other words, by kneeling before God, it is one way in which we can bless God. Another attitude is to fall prostrate or face down. In Leviticus 9:24 it says: “Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” We not only see this with worship on earth but also in worship in heaven – Revelation 4:10: “The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. “
In conclusion, how do we enter God’s presence? With thanksgiving and praise. What qualifies us to enter God’s presence? Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. We cannot qualify ourselves; it is only through Jesus, and it is only on this basis that we enter into worship our incredible and almighty God.
Women of Reverence welcomes Myra McAlpine as a guest blogger.
Myra is wife to Bruce. Mother of two beautiful girls, two handsome boys, two Schnauzers and a cat (who thinks she runs the show) and part-time mom to whoever is staying at their home at any given time.
She loves Jesus with all her heart! Her hobbies include running, CrossFit and lying on their trampoline staring up into their huge Camphor tree (aka daydreaming).
Together with her husband, Bruce and their amazing team of elders, they lead Lighthouse to the Nations Church in Norwood, Johannesburg and they serve on the NCMI Global Apostolic Team.