January 23, 2015

Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

True praise and worship are inextricably tied to humility. When we are truly aware of our relative status before God, conceit is out of the question and praise and worship flow naturally. When we grasp, even to a small degree, how infinitely greater God is, quite literally, but that He loves and cares for us individually, then gratitude will well up and overflow in praise and worship. It is actually a high privilege to be able to offer God praise and worship, and when it is genuine it is delightful, just as the Psalmist recognized. I have encountered even some musical people who considered singing in church a bore, but I have also encountered people who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but they loved to praise God. Guess which were happier? Musical ability and skill are good things, but genuine praise is not dependent on them. What God is after is heart attitude. I have heard great works of Christian music performed by professional musicians that were essentially cold and lifeless, as beautiful as they were, and I have heard far less polished performances that I’m sure delighted heaven. As a musician myself I certainly prefer that people be on pitch, but what is most important is “heart pitch.” There are virtually unlimited styles of music, and I dare say practically all of them can be used to praise God. Each of us has preferences as to style, but again, the important thing is the heart behind the music. God is worthy of our best, but that’s got to start from the heart.

I grew up singing hymns with my family, and could read the notes before I could read the words. However, it was when I first encountered the Charismatic Movement in the ’70s that my understanding of praise and worship began to grow. I learned what Jesus was talking about when He told the woman in Sychar that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) I have observed that Christian musicians seem to have a target painted on them by the devil, because he knows the power of anointed music and he seeks to discredit it as much as possible. I have seen so many musicians stumble and fall, both big names and unknowns, and I have taken to praying for the protection of gifted musicians as I have become aware of them. Music is not my major ministry, but even so I feel like my guardian angel has had to work overtime! I am to teach the believers the joy of praising God and worshiping Him. For those who are interested I can teach vocal techniques, but the important thing is teaching them to appreciate who God is and what He has done for them, and then respond from their hearts.

Father, several years ago You indicated very clearly that praise and worship were to be essential weapons in our armory for spiritual warfare, yet I have not focused on that element very much at all. I ask for clear guidance in that in this year particularly. I feel we don’t do badly, but we certainly have room for growth. Help us be the worshipers You seek, (John 4:23) not as a matter of technique but as a matter of hearts and lives totally committed to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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