The Hidden Benefits of Praise
by Darlene Foster
Over the years I have discovered that many times the Lord had caused a release and a healing to take place in my emotions as I praised Him. Sometimes I was not even consciously aware of a need for healing until after they had been cleansed and flushed out as I praised God.
There are many reasons why we should praise God, as well as many ways to express that praise. Likewise, there are many avenues whereby we may obtain help for emotional problems. I certainly do not discount or disqualify any avenue or method in either area; I simply want to share one of the hidden benefits of praise which has been a great blessing to me.
The need for emotional healing…
From the moment we are born, we absorb into our inner beings a great variety of attitudes, impressions, likes, dislikes, etc. These come to us through our five senses, and they make up what is called our subconscious mind, or, as we could call it, our “programmer.”
We have little or no control over much of that which has been fed into us. Events, circumstances, and relationships simply came our way and left their mark upon our lives. Of course, there are some things we deliberately choose which also influence our lives: our husbands or wives, our children (sometimes), our vocations, our locale, and, most importantly, our relationship with Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Thus we can see that we are a mixture or the many influences which have come our way — some asked for, some not. And, in many cases, some of the “asked for” things did not work out as we had hoped they would, such as a failed marriage, or a child who became rebellious. We then have the influence of those things that have turned sour dumped into our subconscious along with everything else that’s already there. It’s no wonder that we need emotional healing!
We have such great expectations when we first come to Christ, and seldom do we comprehend that many things are still buried deep, in our subconscious, and that Christ doesn’t just automatically come in and wipe the slate clean. As far as sin is concerned, He does wipe the slate clean. But our thought patterns and that which is stored in the subconscious will come up one by one as God deals with them.
We often look at people’s reactions and say, “I can’t believe a Christian would do that!” But if we can understand how God deals with our subconscious reactions, then instead of judging others, we can have understanding and compassion towards them — and to ourselves. We have all recognized that at times we over-react, and afterwards we wonder, “Why did I do that? Why am I always acting that way?” But if we cannot have compassion towards ourselves, we will not have it towards others.
It is at this point that the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ must come in. As we are able to finally grasp the reality that He loves us in spite of our sins and hang-ups, we will then be willing to allow Him to deal with these issues. And one of the most marvelous ways in which He deals with some of these subconscious hidden areas is through praise. As the praise begins to flow, the subconscious reactions begin to go.
The formula is simple…
• Praise brings God’s presence.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel (Psalm 22:3).
• God’s presence brings joy.
In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).
• The joy of the Lord is our strength.
For the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10).
Joy is a great liberator of both conscious and subconscious hang-ups. One aspect of the meaning of joy or rejoicing is “to brighten up; to lubricate; to heal, be in health, or to exhibit health.” Joy will bring a shining light to our countenance.
Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness, according to Hebrews 1:9. And Luke 6:23 says, “Rejoice ... and leap for joy ...“The Greek translation means “to leap and dance for joy.”
This formula — “Praise brings God’s presence, His presence brings joy, and the joy of the Lord is our strength” — is worked out in a practical application through the active expressions of praise, such as clapping your hands, lifting your hands, lifting your voice, and particularly praising God in the dance.
You can deprogram yourself…
One of the ways you can start deprogramming yourself of the hang-ups in your subconscious is through exercising yourself unto godliness, as I Timothy 4:7-8 speaks of. Physical exercise, if done correctly, will cause you to be relaxed and free and will relieve tenseness and stiffness. Godly exercise in active praise will bring the same results to the spirit. Active praise will free you from the stuffy mind that is drowning in its own thoughts, attitudes, and opinions. Do you ever get sick of yourself because you are so full of ugly attitudes towards yourself, your home, your job, or your family?
Exercising in godliness can free you from those thoughts and attitudes. Active expressions of praise are like lubricants; they will free you from remaining hemmed-in and bound by ugly attitudes that are a result of those things which have been put into the subconscious. And the beautiful thing about receiving an inner healing through praise is that the healing process comes so much easier. As you glorify God and worship Him, praise will flow from your innermost being. In the process, subconscious attitudes, hurts, and disappointments that are deeply buried get “caught up” in the flow and are washed out. The praises are like lubricating oil, causing the subconscious attitudes to come up easier.
When you are not praising, the “machinery” is still there, but the lubricant isn’t flowing. Then if you let out just one little “Lord, I love you,” a little lubricant flows and the machinery begins to move.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
Next, you could raise your hands in praise — and more lubricant would flow.
“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2).
Then there is the clapping of your hands in praise, and again this releases a flow of the lubricating oil of the Lord.
“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1).
To “shout unto God with the voice of triumph” is yet another form of active vocal praise. This speaks of the shout of victory — and we are all familiar with the story of Jericho and how the walls came down when God’s people shouted in unison at the appointed time. And finally, there is praising God in the dance.
“Let them praise his name in the dance (Psalm 149:3).
“Praise him with the tumbrel and dance (Psalm 150:4).
To praise God in the dance requires the surrender of your entire being to the Lord. When you praise Him in the dance, the lubrication of the joy of His presence moves throughout every part of your being to break up, loosen, and free, areas of your life.
If your church background is one of quiet ceremony and dignified reverence, you may find it difficult to associate such actions with your relationship to God. You are accustomed to thinking of God in the setting of solemn organ music, stained glass windows, subdued lighting, pomp and ceremony, and a certain order of service. You’re comfortable with that, and you can relate to God in wonderful and beneficial ways in such a setting. I’m not saying that’s wrong. There are times when the beauty and dignity of a quiet worship service ministers to me on a very deep and beautiful level. But if you limit yourself in expressions of worship and praise, you also limit God in the ways in which He can work in your life.
I’ve shared with many people how the Lord had to help me to be willing to praise Him in the dance. I’m sure I had as many hang-ups, struggles, and complexes as anyone. I used to have a problem just clapping my hands... and an even greater problem hearing my own voice praising God.
The time will come, however, when you will get over the strangeness of your own voice, or seeing your hands clap or lifting them up in praise. But the last battle — and the greatest hurdle to get over in the area of active praise, is praising the Lord in the dance. The only way many people ever accept praising God in the dance is simply to put it on the basis of “If God said it, I believe it, and I’ll do it.”
The greatest emotional healings I have experienced have not come through times of talking to God in prayer, reading the Word, or studying someone’s book on healing of the memories, but through times of worshipping and praising God. At the time the Lord began emotional healing in me, we didn’t have all the books on the subject like we do now.
I’m not saying these things aren’t beneficial, or that God doesn’t use them. I am very involved in the emotional growth groups in our church, and we are seeing great benefits and marvelous breakthroughs in this area. But I’m convinced that the Lord heals many areas of our subconscious without us even being aware that we have need of healing in these areas.
I can remember how I used to praise the Lord and then start crying. I didn’t know why I was crying at the time, but later the Lord would reveal a hurt or an area that needed to be dealt with. Sometimes He would ask me to forgive a person; or if it was a very hurtful thing, He would tell me not only to forgive, but to love that person, or even make contact with them. And I always found that after responding to what the Lord wanted me to do, I would have great peace and my countenance would actually change. My personality became more relaxed and I found it easier to smile and embrace joy.
We need to see God’s commands to praise Him as a direct word to us, and obey them in the same way that we obey His other commands. I have learned the benefits of responding to God’s commands to praise Him; now when God says, “Darlene, you need to praise me —Get going! “I just do it. I realize, however, that not everyone has reached that point. But if we can begin to see the command to praise as a command to life, then we will have a more vigorous attitude in responding.
I encourage you to embrace God’s command to praise Him. As you are able to embrace the steps of praise which I have mentioned, you will find that these expressions of praise will bring your personality into a breakthrough where God can wash out many hang-ups, both conscious and subconscious.
Don’t neglect praise. Go to your emotional growth groups, read your books on healing of the emotions, go to a Christian psychologist if you feel it will help you . . . but in doing all these, don’t neglect praise.
This article was written in the winter of 1982 by the late Darlene Foster, a friend and one of the pastors at Sweetwater Church of the Valley. Darlene is with her Lord in heaven now, and I honor her memory today by remembering her wonder teaching on “The Hidden Benefits Praise” – my hope is that it will stir many of you, as it did me the first time I read this in 1986, some 4 years after she wrote it, and again now some 26 years later. It’s a timeless teaching.
Rev. Barbara Di Gilio