Harvest House Publishers
Copyright © 2004 by Stormie Omartian
Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402
All rights reserved.
What Is the Prayer That Changes Everything?
Part IóFifteen Reasons to Praise God Now
Why We Need to Know God Better
Part IIóFifteen Times When Praise Is Crucial
When We Need to Praise God More
Proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of
darkness into His marvelous light.
1 PETER 2:9
If youíre like me, you donít want to live a lukewarm, mediocre, ďbarely making it,Ē sad, lonely, hopeless, miserable, frightened, frustrated, unfulfilled, meaningless, ineffective, or fruitless existence. You donít want to be imprisoned by your circumstances or chained to your limitations. You want to live an extraordinary life. A life of peace, joy, fulfillment, hope, and purpose. A life where all things are possible.
The kind of life I just described can only happen when we enter into a close relationship with God.
I mean really close. There are many people who believe in God. Some of them live their lives with a sense of God in the back of their mind. Others do religious things for God. Still others love God and serve Him to the best of their ability, but they long for more in their relationship with Him. Yet not many are really close to Him.
You may be thinking, How close is really close exactly? Itís close enough to know Him intimately. Close enough to communicate your whole heart to Him on an ongoing basis. Close enough to be able to direct your attention away from yourself completely and place it on Him entirely. Close enough to understand who He really is and then allow that knowledge of Him to define who you really are. Itís loving Him with all your heart and letting Him love you with all of His.
You know how it is when you fall in love. That special person occupies your every thought, and itís hard to focus on other things. You experience a constant wellspring of joy bubbling up from within you that seems as if it could never run dry. You long for that person when youíre not with them, and you canít wait to be in their presence again. Being near them takes your breath away. You love them so much it sometimes makes your heart hurt.
You delight in all you see in them, and you seek to know everything there is to know about them.You want to wrap your arms around them as tightly as you can and never let go. You want your souls to intertwine until you can no longer tell where that person ends and you begin. And every time you embrace, new strength and fulfillment flow into your being. You feel as though you have finally connected to someone at a depth you always dreamed about. You complete each other. Your heart has found a home. The world is wonderful. And all is good.
Itís a glorious way to feel.
This is also the way God wants us to feel about Him.
All the time.
When you are in love you wish you could feel that way forever. But if you did, then your heart would hurt every day and you would never get anything done. So as the extreme intensity of your love fadesówhich it must do or we would never live through itóthe depth of it must grow. It must be watered and fed and nurtured and become like a beautiful oak tree that cannot be shaken because the roots have gone down so deep.
Thatís what God wants to happen in your relationship with Him. Iím not saying that your first love for God needs to fade. Iím saying that it needs to grow. After that beginning rushóthat initial spiritual highóyour relationship with God needs to be nurtured and deepened.
But how does all this happen? How do you develop that kind of love for God? What should you do to make your relationship grow deeper? How do you get really close to Him? One way is to read His story. The Bible. It reveals who He is. It shows how He works. It tells us of His desires and plans for our lives. It speaks of His great love for us.
Another way is to receive His Son, Jesus. And then spend every day for the rest of your life trying to fathom love so great that He would willingly lay down His life in brutal torture and crucifixion on a cross, just so you could always be close to God.
Another way is to pray.
My definition of prayer is simply communicating with God. Itís a love relationship first and foremost. Prayer is baring your soul to the One who loved you before you even knew of Him and letting Him speak to your heart.
Far too often prayer becomes a complicated issue for people. In fact, there can seem to be so many aspects to it that many people become intimidated. They fear that they canít pray well enough, or right enough, or long enough, or eloquently enough. They are afraid that their prayers wonít be heard because they themselves are not good enough or holy enough or knowledgeable enough. In all the books I have written, I have sought to dispel that kind of fear and intimidation and make prayer accessible to everyone.
In this book I want to focus on one very important form of prayeróor communicating with Godóand that is worship and praise. (I know that worship and praise can be considered as two separate ways we honor God, but they are so interconnected that Iím going to refer to them as one expression.) Worship and praise is the purest form of prayer because it focuses our minds and souls entirely away from ourselves and on to Him. What it communicates is pure love, devotion, reverence, appreciation, and thankfulness to God. Itís exalting God for who He is. Itís communicating our longing for Him. Itís drawing close to Him for the sake of being close. When we worship God, we are the closest to Him we will ever be. Thatís because praise welcomes His presence in our midst.
One of the most wonderful things about God is that He lives in our praise. He inhabits the praises of His people. ďBut You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel,Ē the Bible says (Psalm 22:3). When we worship Him, itís not like worshiping some cold and distant deity. Heís a loving God who wants to be with us. And when we worship Him, He is.
Isnít that amazing?
What an awesome gift! When we praise and worship God, His presence comes to dwell with us. And the most amazing thing about that is when it does, things change. Always! You can count on it. Hearts change.
Situations change. Lives change. Minds change. Attitudes change.
Every time you praise God, something changes within you, or your circumstances, or in the people or situations around you. We canít see all that is being affected, but we can trust that it is, because it is impossible to touch the presence of God and there not be change. The reason for that is you are coming in contact with all that God is, and that will affect all that you are.
Praise is the prayer that changes everything.
<WHEN< a>I first came to the Lord, I didnít understand the power of praising God. I thought praise was something you did on a Sunday morning in church while waiting for all the people to get there who were coming in late. It was a prelude to the main eventóthe sermon. Thatís what we were there for, wasnít it? It seemed a little like when the appetizers are served at a dinner party, during which time all the guests arrive. And once everyone is present, the dinner is served.
After I received Jesus into my life, however, I started going to a new kind of church. One where worship and praise was a priority. I had never seen anything like it.
Growing up as a child, I didnít go to church much. Just Christmas, Easter, funerals, and one extended visit to a relativeís house, when my mother left my dad, where that family went to church every week! Of course they had to, since the father in that home was the pastor. It was the family business, after all. But even with going to church every week, I never found much life in it. I donít remember any real worship time, except for a hymn or two. The choir performed what music there was. It was nice, but I was always with the adults and didnít understand much of what was going on or being said. Plus, I was with my mother, and she had a completely distorted view of God, church, and the Bible. It made me never want to go any further into it.
My mother was mentally ill. Only no one understood it back then or knew what to do about it. And there was a social stigma attached to it, so that if anyone found out you had a mentally ill relativeóespecially a parentóyou were suspect from then on and socially ostracized. Not that we were all that socially accepted in the first place. We lived isolated lives. But the few people who had anything to do with us would have been reduced to zero at first knowledge of something like that. So my motherís problem was swept under the rug.
My dad always loved my mother in spite of how mean she was to him. He wouldnít have her committed, even at the urging of her own family, because he always hoped she would ďsomeday snap out of it.Ē He said he first realized something was wrong on their honeymoon when she thought people were following them and trying to kill her. Because of that, they couldnít go to the hotel they were supposed to stay in. They had to travel to three different hotels before my father finally put his foot down and said, ďThis is it. We are staying here!Ē
Untreated, my motherís mental illness grew worse throughout the years. The way she coped with me as a child was with violence and abuse and keeping me locked in a closet for many hours at a time. I never knew exactly why I was put there, but I thought I must have done something really bad. And then at other times, she seemed so far away in her own world that she wasnít aware I existed. So the pendulum would swing, with no predictability, from physical abuse to abandonment.
As a result, I grew up with serious feelings of rejection, fear, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, painful loneliness, and a sadness that planted a perpetual lump in my throat. It was the kind of lump you get when you have a constant ache in your heart and you must continually choke back a lifetime of uncried tears. You have kept them back for so long that you know they have become a torrential flood building up behind a dam. You learn to keep that dam from breaking at all costs because, if it ever did, it might destroy everything in its path. The kind of tears Iím talking about can only be released in the presence of unconditional love and acceptance. And where on earth can you go to find that?
My dad never went to church that I recall except the day of his funeral. My family and I had a simple service for him and buried him the way he had requested. He always said his dad never went to church, but his mother made him go twice on Sunday and once in the middle of the week to sit for four hours at a time on hard benches while the preacher screamed about going to hell. He said he knew there was a God and he believed in Jesus, but he was never going to enter a church again as long as he lived. As far as I know, he kept his promise.
After I grew up and was out of the house, I tried everything I could get my hands on to be rid of the emotional pain I had inside. It was unbearable. I apologize to anyone reading this book who knew me during those years, because there must have been times when you wondered what was wrong with me. I could appear normal for a while, but I just couldnít keep it up. And then I would break down, suddenly withdraw, clam up, or be distant. It was all about hiding who I really was. It was all about holding back the tears.
One of the ways I coped was to drink way too much alcohol. I drank until I
was giddy, but I wouldnít stop there. I had to keep going until I was drunk and
passed out on someoneís couch. I took drugs until I nearly killed myself many
times. I went into the occult determined to make
contact with some kind of spiritual being who could help me because I knew no human could. I did make contact with a spiritual being, all right, and whatever it was frightened me to death. My fear and depression continued to increase. I explored Eastern religions, but their gods were cruel, distant, and cold. If I wanted cruel, distant, and cold, I could go back and live with my mother. At least she was familiar, and by this time I understood where she was coming from.
In my twenties I had a number of relationships with men. But that old spirit of rejection was always in control. As a result I made sure I rejected them before they could reject me. There were several young men who were quite wonderful, but they didnít know the real me. The broken, hurting, sad, anxious, desperate, suicidal me. And I could never risk letting them see that side. If I were to tell them the truth about my life and my emotional state, rejection was a sure thing. So I ended the relationships while everything was still good. The young men were baffled about why I left with no explanation. It was because my situation was beyond explanation. At least I couldnít explain it.
Out of all those relationships I ended up getting two abortions. One in the back room of an old rundown house in Tijuana where the doctor who performed it told me if I died during the operation, he would have to dump my body in the desert. He apologized in advance just in case that happened. The other abortion happened in a hotel room in Las Vegas with no anesthetic. I was blindfolded and gagged, and another man, the doctorís ďassistant,Ē laid across my body with his full weight and put his hand over my mouth so I could not move or scream. It was worse than a nightmare because there was no hope of waking up from it. During both of those times, killing a child never entered my mind. Staying alive another week was always my only goal.
Finally, when I was 28, I couldnít keep up the front anymore. Everything in my life failed. I had a career as a singer, dancer, and actress on television, but all the shows I had been doing were canceled. There was a major industry transition away from musical variety and comedy shows. That was okay with me because I no longer felt like singing and nothing was funny to me anymore.
I had a short first marriage which I expected to fail. And it did. My health, mind, and emotions failed right along with it. I couldnít keep up the front anymore. All of my attempts to find a way out of the pain had come to nothing, and I could no longer fight the suicidal thoughts I had battled every day for as long as I could remember.
I planned my suicide. I began collecting enough sleeping pills and various drugs from friends to do the job right. I did not want to wake up in a hospital somewhere after having my stomach pumped. I didnít want to wake up at all. I wanted to be rid of the pain forever. I knew I had become what my mother had often predictedóa worthless failure who would never amount to anything. All the degrading profanity she used to describe me summed up how I felt about myself and my life. And I couldnít bear it anymore.
At this crucial time my friend Terry came to me and told me about Jesus. She had talked about Him before in a gentle way, but I wasnít listening then. She was more insistent this time because she could see I was in bad shape. We were singing together on a record session, and she took me aside on a break and gave it to me as straight as anyone could. She said she had been praying for me for the past four years we had been working together in television. She extended the love of God to me like a lifeline and begged me to come with her to meet her pastor. It wasnít as much what she was telling me as it was the love and concern with which she said it that convinced me to say yes.
We met Pastor Jack Hayford at a popular restaurant close by, and he spent two hours talking to me in a way I could understand about who Jesus really was. His words were compelling. And if what he said was true, I wanted the life Jesus promised. He gave me books to read, one of which was the Gospel of John, and asked us to meet him again the following week. While reading the books during that week, my eyes were opened to the truth and reality of the Lord. When we met with Pastor Jack again, he asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus and find the life God had for me. I said yes, canceled my suicide plans, and he and Terry prayed forme. I wasnít sure what I was getting into, but I could sense the love and peace of God in these two people, and I wanted what they had.
Immediately my life began to change. I started going to Pastor Jackís church, and the minute I walked in, the love of God was so strong it brought me to tears. The dam was starting to break. And I wasnít the only one. Everyone else felt the same way. The saying that went around at the time was that you shouldnít go to this church without Kleenex and waterproof mascara.
The first thing I learned in church was the importance and power of worship and praise. Pastor Jack led worship, but he didnít just lead the music. He also taught us how to worship God and why God was deserving of all the praise we were giving Him. He taught us about how much God loved us, and how we could love Him back through our praise and worship.
In every service I attended, the worship was life-transforming. Even though we were all there to praise God, we were the ones being blessed, empowered, enriched, fulfilled, and changed. Each time I was in a worship service, I was changed. I came to worship God, but in the process God changed me. That happened years ago, but I remember it as though it were yesterday. Thatís because it changed my life completely.
I attended that church for 23 years before my family and I moved to a different state. From then on, every time I have gone into a church the first thing I look for is that kind of life-changing worship. The kind that changes everything every time you do it. The kind that changes you. Changes your perspective. Changes your mind, your life, and your circumstances.
Whether we admit it or not, or even recognize it in ourselves, we all pursue, seek after, idolize, or worship something or someone. And whatever we worship will become the main motivation in our lives. Some people worship celebrities. Others worship money and material possessions. Others worship their job or position. Still others worship such things as nature, beauty, food, hobbies, sex, music, friends, or entertainment. Whatever we worship will influence our lives.
The truth is, we become like what or who we worship (Psalm 115:4-8).
When we worship something, it affects who we become as a person. This doesnít mean if you worship a rock star you are going to develop a raspy voice. It means you are worshiping something that doesnít have the power to save you from anything. When we idolize and seek after other gods, they canít change us, transform us, or help us find our destiny. But when we worship God, He can do all those things and more.
The more we worship God, the more we become like Him.
Who or what you worship affects what emanates from your life. When we seek after the Lord and worship Him, then we become all we were created to be.
I have found that weómost peopleódonít praise God as much as we should. Or could. And the reason for that is we donít really know enough about who God is. We donít understand the many reasons why we should worship Him. Plus, we canít comprehend the powerful impact that praising Him has on our own lives. We donít recognize the gift that praise is to us, and therefore we donít fully understand the power to be found in it.
Itís like receiving Jesus. If people understood who He really is and all that He did for them, only the hardest of hearts would hesitate to receive Him into their lives. But so many lies are told about Him, and there are so many misconceptions about what He did and what He is doing today, that people have a distorted view of Him.
If we truly understood who God is, our praise would be unending. It could not be contained.
We donít really know how to worship God until we come to know Him. We may appreciate His creation, but that is not the same as appreciating Him. In fact, when we appreciate His creation more than we do Him, it shows that we donít know Him. Every time we praise and worship God, we receive new revelation of Godís character. We understand more about who He is. And the more we know who He is, the more we want to show our love and adoration to Him.
Just as God created man and woman in His image, the gods we choose to worship manifest their attributes in the worshiper. So in deciding what or whom to worship, you are making life decisions regarding your values, your priorities, and how you are to live.
We were born to worship God. But God did not create us to be robotic beings who tell Him how great He is. He created us to be in communion and partnership with Him. Every time we praise God for who He is and all that He has done, it unleashes His life-changing power in our lives. His presence comes to soften our hearts so they can be molded into whatever shape He wants. Praise is the means by which God transforms our lives and enables us to do His will and glorify Him.
That is the most amazing thing about praising God. There is a gift found hidden within that seems to make praise and worship of Him to be as much for us as it is for Him. I doubt that God needs to be reminded of who He is, but He knows we certainly need to be. God is secure in the knowledge of His greatness, perfection, and power. We are the ones who forget. And we are the ones who need to show Him that we know who He is. And when we are praising God, we demonstrate all that to Him.
Worshiping God is the way He can pry us loose from ourselves and make us stop holding on to the world and start holding on to Him. God intends worship to restore us, fill us, motivate us, bless us, and fulfill us in ways we never dreamed possible. There are certain blessings that He wants to give us that will only come into our lives as we worship Him.
I never knew the meaning of joy until I found it in worship. I remember a specific day when many people were worshiping together and we could sense the power of the Holy Spirit filling the room. Suddenly God broke through the hardness of my heart. I didnít think it was hard until the hardness was gone. And then I sensed the amazing love of God and the joy of the Lord. I had never known that before. It fully existed without depending on circumstances, material possessions, or acceptance of man. It was there because of the presence of God alone. That was my day of freedom. My personal independence day. Joy did not depend on anything other than being in the presence of God and allowing His presence to overflow me with His love. I received all that while praising God.
Our greatest blessing comes when we take the focus off of ourselves and put it entirely on God in worship and praise. Isnít it just like our wonderful Lord to make something that is all about Him be the thing that blesses us the most when we do it?
Praise becomes the very means by which God pours Himself into our lives. Itís not something we can manipulate God into doing. Itís a gift He gives to those who have a true heart of love and reverence for Him. Only those who put God first will uncover the hidden power of praise.
Just recently I went through two months of the most empty, paralyzing, depressing time. On the outside it looked as if I had nothing to be concerned about. But on the inside I felt paralyzed to the point of not being able to do much of anything. And I had so much I needed to be doing. Good things. Things I have always wanted to do. Yet I couldnít bring myself to do any of them. I had not been like this since I became a believer.
I prayed time and again about this problem, but I just could not get through it. I had lost my vision for the future and couldnít seem to regain it no matter how I tried. I felt useless, aimless, and alone. Even despairing at times. I couldnít see beyond the day, and the day was a struggle to get through. I had trouble concentrating. It was impossible to focus. It seemed as though I were being squeezed in a vise and then wrung out like a rag to dry in the heat of the day. I felt trapped by my own blessingsóby the answers to my own prayers. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was, if that meant I could escape the misery. And this was a hard place to be, because I had so many responsibilities and deadlines that going anyplace except to my laptop would have been criminal. Possibly even prosecutable under certain standards. The harder I tried, the less I was able to get done. Of course I prayed about this with my prayer partners and a few friends and family members, but to no avail. Nothing changed.
One night I became so desperate to break through this painful malaise that I reached out to God yet again from the depth of my being and cried, ďLord, what is the matter with me? What is this about? Am I doing something wrong? Tell me what I should be doing differently. I canít seem to make myself do anything at all. Am I just burned out? Have I worked too hard for too long? I thought You had instructed me to do the things Iím doing, yet I feel incapable of working on any of them right now. Did I misunderstand Your leading? If so, what am I supposed to do? Please speak to me, Lord. Help me to understand. Take away this heaviness so I can breathe freely and think clearly again.Ē
Finally I felt a distinct impression upon my heart that I knew was the Lord. It was like the sun breaking through clouds after a tornado. Everything was calm and peaceful in direct contrast to the intensity of the moments before.
He said,ďSimply worship Me.Ē
I understood this was not to be a prelude to anything else, but an end entirely in itself. It was not to be for just that moment or until the next morning. I was to worship Him until He told me otherwise.
That was very hard for someone who likes to pray about everything, covering all the bases and possible scenarios. Yet God wasnít saying I couldnít pray for other people and situations. Just that I was not to ask for anything for myself right then. My stance in the midst of my miserable condition was to be one of worship and praise before God. Thatís all.
ďSimply worship Me,Ē He said.
Itís not as if I didnít know how to praise God in the midst of difficult situations or had never done that. I had learned this powerful principle many years before and had made praise and worship of God a priority in my life. I knew what to do. I knew how to do it. I knew why I was doing it. But this time, I was to do it as the ultimate end in itself. As if nothing else would ever follow.
ďGod, are You preparing me for eternity?Ē I asked.
ďThat is always true,Ē He spoke to my spirit again. ďBut this is not your time to die. I am preparing your heart to do the work I have for you to do, and I need your full attention. Donít come to Me with your lists right now, even though the things you need are important to Me and I desire that you look to Me for all your needs. There will be a time for that kind of prayer again soon, but right now you must trust that I know what you need. In this season, I want you to simply worship Me. Exalt My name and praise Me for all that I am. Let Me fill your heart with My thoughts and not your own.Ē
So thatís what I did. I simply worshiped Him.
It wasnít easy. It felt as though I were standing in the middle of a raging storm and the winds of temptation, depression, hurt, and torment would tear me apart. It seemed at times that I wouldnít survive it. I feared I might cave and look somewhere other than God for relief. It wasnít as though I couldnít have gone to someone for pastoral counseling or prayer support. I am richly surrounded by all of that, and I have made use of it far more often than Iím sure most of these kind people had time for in their busy schedules. But I knew this was between me and God. He was doing something that I couldnít understand or explain to anyone else right then. And I had to go through it with Him alone.
I cried every single day. Many times throughout the day. Actually, crying is not a strong enough word. Gut-wrenching sobs is more like it. I was continually blinded by rivers of unending tears. Even when the tears werenít visible on the outside, they flowed silently inside. Without any warning they would overtake me in an instant and spill over into the visible so profusely that I would have to excuse myself from where I was or pull over to the side of the road. Sometimes my insides would be so strongly constricted by sobs that it was hard to breathe. It was not merely emotional; it was deeply spiritual. And I felt as though I were in a battle. A battle for my soul. A battle for my life. For my existence. A battle for my future. Not a battle with God, but with the enemy of my soul. The enemy who wanted to destroy me and had tried so often and hard to do so in my past.
I kept all this hidden. I couldnít explain it, and I didnít even want to try. Once again I had to lay down every dream I ever had. Iíd done that in the past. Numerous times, actually. I surrendered my dreams to God and let them die. Then He took away the ones that were not from Him and resurrected the ones that were. The difference now was that these were the dreams I thought God had resurrected. They were the ones He had given me, and I thought they were mine to keep. These had been my joy to think about. And now it hurt unbearably to let them go. It tore at the fabric of my being. But I had to surrender everything to the One who would ultimately determine whether I ever saw those dreams realized or not.
It was pointless to resist.
Through it all I remained with my heart bowed at my heavenly Fatherís feet, humbled before His throne, and clinging to the hem of His garment. I cried every time I thought of Him. Actually, I cried just about every time I thought of anything, but especially Him. And particularly when I thought of all He had done for me. How He had sent Jesus to earth for me. And countless other people too, of course, but that wasnít the point right then. The point was that God wanted me to take our relationship personally. I thought I had been doing that, but He wanted more. What He had done in my life up until that point would pale in comparison to what He wanted to do in my heart now.
God wanted to have such free reign in my heart that I would allow Him to break it, pummel it, grind it into sand, and then make something new. Thatís because He wanted to do something new. Ultimately not just for me and my benefit, but for others as well.
And I was willing.
Boy, was I willing! When God has a hold of you, itís best to not resist. Itís better to go with the program and see it through. Life will never be the same if you do. It will be always missing something great if you donít.
Through it all I came to see in deeper measure how awesome and wonderful our Lord is. How great is the depth of His love. How worthy of our praise and worship He is. We see so little of His greatness with our finite minds. We are practically clueless in our approach to Him. He desires so much more from us because He has so much more for us. And when we let Him, He will reveal more of Himself to us. As much as we are able to contain.
It took months of every kind of test and temptation that you can imagine until one day the storm ceased. The vise parted. The hold on my life finally broke. I got my vision back. I could think ahead again. And I knew He was preparing me for something. To write this book perhaps. That remains to be seen. But God definitely wanted me to make worship and praise a greater priority in my life than it had ever been before.
During that time I learned a lot more about the power of worship and praise. I see that sometimes it is all God wants. Sometimes worship is to be our only weapon, along with the Word of God, of course, because it allows Him to fight the battle for us.
God sees into the heart of every worshiper. He knows whether they are sincere, truthful, honest, and pure in their motivation. You know how you can always tell when someone comes to you acting nice, but they have ulterior motives? Maybe they havenít called you in months, but now they want something from you and try to convince you of their affection so they can get it. Many parents have seen that in their children.
ďMom, you look so beautiful. Can I have a new video game?Ē
ďDad, youíre the greatest. Can I borrow the car?Ē
Maybe thatís how God feels. Like a holy sugar daddy or lucky slot machine. Surely He longs to have His children sometimes just express their affection for Him and thatís all. I am not saying we shouldnít pray for things. Thatís not scriptural, and itís certainly not what I believe. I am saying that in our praying we canít forget to make praise and worship a priority. It should be a part of every prayer.
We were created to worship God. Itís a state in which our soul finds true peace, rest, and purpose. But it must become a condition of the heart, a way of life, a pattern that is woven into the fabric of our being. Worship must become so ongoing that it is no longer even a decision that has to be made because the decision has already been made. Worship must become a lifestyle.
When you make worship a lifestyle, it will determine in whose image you will be formed and what you will become.
Sometimes praise and worship will be the only thing you do in a situation. You will stand and praise God while the tornados of life swirl around you, and you will see God move on your behalf. And then you will understand the hidden power of praise. When you understand that concept, it will change your life.
Itís not your saying, ďIíll give it everything Iíve got, and the Lord will bless it,Ē but rather itís the Lord saying to you, ďYou just bless My name, and Iíll give it everything I have.Ē Thatís the hidden power in praise!
Worship is a choice we make. Whether we worship God or not is always an act of our own will. Our will determines whether we make it our first reaction to things that happen to usóor donít happen to usóor a last resort. If we donít make it our first reaction, then we cannot possibly make it away of life. And if we donít make praise a way of life, we will never experience all God has for us.
One of the most important things you can do in your life is to worship together with other believers. I canít emphasize that enough. This kind of corporate praise can pull you in and take you someplace you couldnít get to without it. There is something that happens when we worship God together with other believers that doesnít happen to the same degree when we donít. It becomes a force that ignites change in the world around you. Thereís a renewing, reviving, and refreshing of our own souls. Itís amazingly life-transforming, and when you let yourself be swept up into it, it will melt and change your heart. But if you have to always rely on a group to draw you in, you are missing an important element in your personal walk with God. Your own spirit and soul need to connect with God in a way that can only happen through frequent and ongoing praise and worship.
Itís not enough that you should read about worship, hear worship songs, or listen to other people worship, you must actually worship God yourself. Itís in your own personal worship times that you will develop an intimate relationship with Him. If you are ever worshiping God by yourself and you donít sense His intimate presence, continue to praise and worship Him until you do. Itís not that you have to try hard to get God to be close to you. He has chosen to dwell in your praise. But you do have to give Him time to break down the barriers in your soul and penetrate the walls of your heart so that He can pour Himself into you.
God must always be the complete focus of your worship. But when you worship Him, there will be gifts and blessings that He will pour out on you.
In worship you will sense why you were created. You will hear God speak to your heart because He has softened it and made it less resistant. In worship you will experience Godís love. He will change your emotions, attitudes, and patterns of thought. He will pour out His Spirit upon you and make your heart open to receive all He has for you. He will make your mind clear so you can better understand His Word. He will refresh, renew, enrich, enlighten, heal, free, and fulfill you. He will breathe life into the dead areas of your existence. He will infuse you with His power and His joy. He will redeem and transform you and your situation. He will fill your empty places, liberate you from bondage, take away your fear and doubt, grow your faith, and give you peace. He will break the chains that imprison you and restore you to wholeness. He will lift you above your circumstances and limitations, and motivate you to help others find life in Him.
Need I go on?
No religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worship entertains high or low thoughts of GodÖWe tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.
Worship is really a gift God gives us. Itís the means by which we find our purpose in life and then see it realized according to His will. In worship we not only acknowledge God and who He is, but we begin to understand who we are in relation to Him. Itís a way of expressing our utter dependence upon Him and our submission to Him. But in order to see all this realized, praise must become a way of life. Like the air we breathe. King David spoke of praising God constantly. He said, ďI will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouthĒ (Psalm 34:1).
The way we keep praise continually in our mouths is by letting praise continually live in our hearts through an ongoing attitude of worship.
God looks for true worshipers because through them He can accomplish His purposes here on earth. ďThe hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship HimĒ (John 4:23). He wants to reveal Himself, His glory, and His power to those who look to Him. ďFrom there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soulĒ (Deuteronomy 4:29). Only when we seek God in worship will we find our true purpose in life and begin to understand why we are here. And only then can we actually begin to see that purpose realized.
When I learned to make praise and worship a priority, it transformed me and my circumstances. I want this to happen to you too. I want you to truly understand the hidden power of praise because when you do, it will become the prayer that changes everything in your life.
The rest of the book is divided into two main sections: Part I gives you Fifteen Reasons to Praise God Now. These are the things that are always true about God. They remind us of who He is, no matter what is happening in our lives. Of course, there are far more reasons than that to praise God, but these are the important ones we tend to forget.
Part II gives you Fifteen Times When Praise Is Crucial. These are the situations in our lives during which we often forget to praise God. Again, there are far more than 15, and I am sure you will think of some of them as you read. When these examples find a place of full understanding in your heart, they will change the way you relate to God on a daily basis for the rest of your life.
Excerpted from The Prayer That Changes Everything By Stormie Omartian. Copyright © 2004 by Harvest House Publishers. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.