Roger Bennett was a Southern Gospel piano player and songwriter who made a living serving the Lord in the ministry of music. Unfortunately, he succumbed to cancer in 2007 after an 11-year battle. The last several years were not particularly easy ones for Bennett. He had leukemia. Bennett wrote about his experiences on his website, Roger Bennett’s Midnight Meditations. “I am convinced,” he told his readers, “that our enemy stalks us exactly in the way the Bible describes him, a roaring lion. He hides in the bushes waiting for any sign of weakness and then he strikes.” He mentioned one particular night when he “bottomed out”. “He didn’t strike me physically,” Bennett wrote. “That had been accomplished for him by the chemo. He struck a more critical part of my being – my joy, my confidence, my hope. Every thought I turned toward heaven bounced back to me as if it were made of brass. Every time I tried to ‘look on the bright side,’ I ended up imaging a very dark future. Then he threw his most effective dart at me – Doubt. ‘You call yourself a Christian,’ he said. ‘What a hypocrite! You wrote, Don’t Be Afraid, and yet you are more afraid now than you’ve ever been. You wrote about joy and yet now you are filled with despair. So much for your faith, Mr. Gospel Singer.’”
Finally, Bennett had an epiphany, a revelation of sorts. He thought about the story told in Acts when Paul and Silas were in jail. “They didn’t despair,” he said. “They sang…It became their weapon.” So Bennett began singing. “One after another these old songs came to my memory and I sang them to my empty room. It wasn’t a great performance, but it may have been the most powerful blessing I’ve received in my life.”
In the Bible praising God is not an option, but we are commanded to praise God for who He is and for what He does. Praising Him for who He is called adoration; praising Him for what He does is known as thanksgiving. The book of Psalms is full of praises to God. Who should praise Him? And where should they praise Him? King David who wrote most of the praise psalms in the Bible notes, in Psalm 22: 22-23, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the LORD praise Him!” King David not only wrote these psalms but he himself was excited to praise God with other believers in the house of God.
Psalm 42:1-2, “As the deer pants (longs) for streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet my God?
At the end of that high powered praise session our hearts were so lifted up, we were encouraged, and our faith was strengthened. Have we seen our situation change immediately? No! But our focus was no longer on ourselves but on the Most High God.
What can we learn from these examples? First, when we begin to praise God for who he is it will lift us up to a place where we meet up with God in our spirit. Secondly, when we praise Him in the midst of our difficult situations and circumstances God is able to deliver us.