Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
July 17, 2016
Central Passage
Philippians 4:6-9
Attached Document
Open Document
Description

PRAYER AND PRAISE

          “Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.  Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies” (Philippians 4:6-9 Message).

          Both faith and patience require effort…but neither are burdensome when left at the feet of Jesus.  Hope, love, goodness and mercy are inseparable…and all are possible within you when you engage in mountain moving, earth shaking prayer and praise.

          In 1 Thessalonians. 5:16-18 (Message) Paul wrote, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

          If you allow it, Satan…the great accuser…will throw a lot of “no matter what” moments at you.  You can stop him in his tracks by being happy in your faith…praying all the time…and thanking God no matter what happens.  That’s how God wants us to live.

          Raising your hands in prayer or praise anytime is pretty good advice.  A good example is found in Exodus 17:10-13. “So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek.  And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it.  And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.  So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”

          The victory was won that day through the supernatural power of prayer and praise to God.  Praying and praising isn’t always easy…so the arms of Moses got tired.  The same thing can happen to us.  When we lift up our arms to pray and praise God…they sometimes get tired, too…especially when we’re in a battle with doubt and unbelief.

          That’s why a unified church is the ideal in Christianity.  Brothers and sisters in Christ who are in one accord can help us lift up our hands in prayer and praise to win our battles against Satan…and we can do the same for them when they’re encountering any number of difficulties in their lives.

          Battles are won when prayer and praise doesn’t stop.  But you need to understand that both prayer and praise is hard work.  Neither are for the faint-hearted.  Both require commitment.

          That’s why you want a true prayer warrior praying for you.  A true prayer warrior doesn’t give up.  They pray until they know their prayer has gained an audience in the throne room of God.  They don’t stop praying until victory is won.

          Let’s be honest…there are time when you don’t feel like praying to and praising God…but don’t stop.  In those moments when you don’t feel like praising Him…but you continue nevertheless…that’s called a sacrifice of praise.

          And don’t praise God for only what you can feel or see…praise Him for what you know and believe.  What you feel may move you…but what you know and believe will move a mountain.

          Praise of God removes fear and doubt.  Praise tells fear and doubt that they have no place in your life.

          In Mark 5:35-43 (Message), we have the story about the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue leader.  “While he [Jesus] was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, ‘Your daughter is dead.  Why bother the Teacher anymore?’  Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, ‘Do not listen to them; just trust me.’  He [Jesus] permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John.  They entered the leader’s house and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles.  Jesus was abrupt: ‘Why all this busybody grief and gossip?  This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.’  Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about.  But when he had sent them all out, he took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. He clasped the girl’s hand and said, ‘Talitha koum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, get up.’  At that, she was up and walking around!  This girl was twelve years of age.  They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy.  He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room. Then he said, ‘Give her something to eat’.”

          When you’re needing a miracle…you don’t need people around that aren’t willing to pray and praise with you until you get your break through.  You need to surround yourself with people that know what knee mail is…not email, but knee mail.

          Jesus showed us what to do when confronted with fear and unbelief.  He asked fear and unbelief to leave the room.  He taught that prayer and praise will always overcome fear and unbelief.

          The longer we take to do that…the longer it takes for God’s anointing to break the yoke the world has around our necks…the longer it takes for the power of God to fall on and meet our needs.

          After a worship service you may hear someone say that they didn’t feel the power of the Holy Spirit…or that they didn’t feel the music was right…or that they thought an instrument was being played too loudly.  But worship is not about what you feel…it’s about what you know.  And what you know…or should know…is that your prayers to and praise of God makes every worship service a memorable experience.

          The responsibility for praising God and reaching the peak of the mountain…or for focusing on something else and falling down the mountain…is yours alone.  Just know and understand that victory in Jesus is at the highest peak of the mountain…not at the foot of it.

          Holy Spirit victory in this church…in any church for that matter…is waiting for a Christian to arrive with the truth that he or she knows about and believes about Jesus.  You receive a blessing from any church service when you arrive ready and focused on praying to and praising God.

          That’s as simple as it gets.  When it comes to corporate worship, the power of God begins to fall upon a person the second he or she walks into the church house.  Unfortunately, many people come in with their umbrellas open in order to prevent the Holy Spirit from raining down on them.

          When we pray it’s the recognition of a need…and when we praise it’s a focus on the power of God to meet that need.  For example, when Jehoshaphat was confronted by a huge number of enemies, he did two things specifically.  He prayed to and then praised God.  The account is found in 2 Chronicles 20:3-4 and 18-23 (Message):

Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed.  He went to God for help and ordered a nationwide fast.  The country of Judah united in seeking God’s help – they came from all the cities of Judah to pray to God…Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground.  All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God.  The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!  They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa.  As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, ‘Listen Judah and Jerusalem!  Listen to what I have to say!  Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm!  Believe in your prophets and you’ll come out on top!’  After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing, Give thanks to God, His love never quits.  As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead.  The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them.  Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed.

          Prayer and praise rescued Jehoshaphat and his people in a supernatural way…and the same God who saved them is available to help us through every crisis in life.  Where we’re concerned the only thing that gets in the way of His supernatural power is our fear and unbelief.

          From a dark prison cell…their backs bleeding from being beaten…Paul and Silas turned their pain into praise.  At midnight they prayed and sang praises to God that the other prisoners heard…and God answered with an earthquake and the salvation of their jailer.

          The setting for prayer and praise certainly wasn’t great for Paul and Silas.  They didn’t have their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes on…but prayer and praise doesn’t have to be pretty to be powerful.  The Holy Spirit provides the power.

          You see, praise is more than a feeling…more than a grateful heart…more than an attitude of thankfulness…and more than a song about God’s goodness.  It’s a 24/7 state of mind…or at least it should be.  That means that every time you have an opportunity to praise God…you need to understand that you’re already doing it without even realizing it.

          There are eight Hebrew words in the Bible that describe praise…or facets of it.  The meanings include excitement…worship with hands extended…kneeling to bless…making music in praise to God…shouting…thanking God for things that haven’t yet happened…singing under inspiration of the Spirit…and shouting with joy.

          The prayers and praises of Paul and Silas destroyed the foundation of their confinement…destroyed the yokes that bound them…and loosed all of the other prisoners around them.

          There’s a story about a man…we’ll call him Mister Jones…who in a panic called a pastor from the hospital and said, “Pastor, please come to the hospital right away.  My son John was just bitten by a rattlesnake and is at the point of death.”

          The pastor hurried to the side of the worried father, who asked him to pray for his son, then added, “I’ve promised God that if my John recovers, I’ll come back to church, bring my family and start living for the Lord.”

          So the pastor prayed, “Dear Lord, we come to you to pray that John might recover from this snake bite.  We want to praise your name for sending this rattlesnake to bite John.  This one rattlesnake has done what the church and I have been unable to do for 20 years.  During all that time, Mister Jones has not been interested in his spiritual well-being, or in the spiritual well-being of his family.  But this one rattlesnake has turned his mind back to you.  Could it be, Lord, that what we need in the lives of many of our other church members are more rattlesnakes?”

          We shouldn’t have to be snake bit for God to get our attention.  And praising Him should be at the top of our “To Do” list.

          So if you’re a Christian…are you willing to hold up your hands in prayer and praise to the Lord until you just can’t do it anymore…until you need help from other believers?  Or, are you willing to take a secondary role and help hold up the arms of other believers who are praying to and praising God?

          When we’re truly ready to hold up our hands in prayer and praise to God until our arms ache with pain…we’ll experience something in this church that very few people have ever experienced.  We’ll truly know what being in the Spirit is all about.

          When we’re truly ready to help hold up the arms of others who are praying to and praising God…we’ll also experience something that few people have ever experienced.  We’ll truly know what unity in the Spirit is all about.

          In my entire life…I’ve never had the experience of being in a church that was in one accord…a church like the 120 people in that Upper Room in Jerusalem…people who were set on fire by the Holy Spirit to serve Jesus even if it meant certain death.  I’d like to experience that before my earthly death…and today I believe it’s possible in this church through prayer to and praise of God.

          When it comes right down to it…a combination of prayer and praise is unbeatable.  Individually, we must be completely dedicated to…and in love with…the Triune God…Father, Son and Holy Spirit…and to His church.

          We must be accountable to the Triune God for everything that we do…which also means that we must be accountable to each other.  And that dedication and accountability to God…and to each other…must be reflected in a continual witness of His saving grace through prayer and praise.

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