I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. With a double mastectomy looming, hope felt fleeting, and fear held me captive. In the midst of chaos, confusion, and continual doctor appointments, I felt a strong need to take a day of fasting and prayer, but my mentor had another idea. She challenged me to praise God for twenty minutes each morning for five days. I remember thinking, “How bizarre! Why on earth would I praise God for cancer? Wouldn’t it be hypocritical to praise God if you didn’t feel thankful?” But after considering her idea further, I decided to give praise a shot. After all, what did I have to lose?
For five consecutive days I rose early in the morning and spent 20 minutes praising God. What I learned in those five days changed my life forever. As I intentionally chose to praise God above my circumstances, I changed. Instead of fear and despair, I experienced renewed hope and resurrected faith! The same principle holds true for you. Praise God above your circumstances, and you will feel hope rising in your soul. We see this principle illustrated in Acts 16.
Paul and Silas had been falsely accused and thrown in prison for charges conjured up by some angry businessmen who felt that Paul’s preaching was stunting their business growth. You can read the entire story in Acts 16:16 – 40. Imagine how devastating it would feel to go to prison for a crime you didn’t even commit! It would be normal in those circumstances to feel forgotten by God, angry with your accusers, and depressed in your surroundings. The crazy thing is that, instead of throwing a pity party, Paul and Silas launch into a praise festival! As they chose to praise God above their circumstances, an earthquake hit, the doors of the prison flew open, and all their chains fell off. The poor guard nearly had a heart attack but, instead, experienced heart change through faith in Jesus Christ.
Each of us will experience “midnight experiences.” In those moments, life feels dark and hope grows dim. However, if you will intentionally choose to unleash the power of praise in your life, the chains of fear and despair will be broken and replaced with freedom and joy. Your circumstances might not change, but your attitude definitely will. So how? How do we praise God?
Here are just a few practical ideas to get you started:
- Use your car time as praise time. Turn on praise music and allow the words to prompt your praise.
- Write the letters of the alphabet. Next to each correlating letter, write an attribute of God. Then praise your way through the list.
- Borrow a psalm of praise, and pray it back to God. Then write your own psalm of praise.
- Fill your home with praise music, especially when life feels hard.
I would encourage you to take the 20-minute praise challenge. Keep a journal and record what you experience. Try it for a week and then come back and leave a comment here. I'd love to hear what you experienced.
For Your Reflection:
What midnight experience have you been through recently? During that time, did you feel abandoned by God? If so, how did you handle those feelings?