The Power of Praise? (with audio)
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(2 Chronicles 20:22 – ESV)
Many people talk of or teach on the power of praise. They often use this passage from 2 Chronicles to “prove” their point. Now there may be a power of praise, but is this really what this passage is teaching us? Lets look at the context by giving a short synopsis of what was going on.
2 Chronicles 20:1-2 – The land was under invasion from several enemies.
2 Chronicles 20:3-13 – Jehoshaphat & the people seek God by fasting and prayer.
2 Chronicles 20:14-17 – They receive the promise of victory by prophecy.
2 Chronicles 20:18-19 – The people fell down in worship, the priests rose up and praised God.
2 Chronicles 20:20-25 – The king rallies everyone, appoints singers to go before the army, and as they praise God the enemies are overthrown, and the spoil is abundant.
2 Chronicles 20:26-30 – They give thanks for the deliverance and for the blessings, they return to Jerusalem with music, and there is peace.
Now there is no doubt that praise is a main element in this story. However, many look at verse 22 and think they see some secret power of praise. Yet this victory was not about some power of praise it was about the power of God predicated upon the repentance we see beginning in 2 Chronicles 19:4, and continued with the prophecy of victory and the people’s worship. It was not because they began to sing and praise but at the same time that they began to sing and praise. They turned to the Lord in repentance, and then they received word that God was going to deliver them, and they praised as God did His deliverance. It wasn’t that they’d never thought of praise, and that then God gave them some revelation about praise warfare, and that now we can all enjoy the blessing of that. It is not as if praise is the answer to all our problems.
No, this wasn’t a revelation of praise warfare, as if we can just sing our way out of sin, without any reference to or regard for repentance from sin. This wasn’t some magic formula given that we now apply universally to all our situations. Indeed, praise is a weapon of sorts, it is definitely part of the process, but it must be the outflow of an understanding of grace, and a natural consequence of having turned to the Lord in repentance. Otherwise praise IS NOT the answer to all your problems, and you cannot simply sing your way out of sin.
They turned to the Lord in repentance, and then they received the message, and the message was about the fact God was going to deliver them, not about how praise was going to deliver them. The message God may give to you may be of a different sort, but then we praise as an outcome of that. We must also turn to the Lord in repentance first, and then receive the message of victory the Bible declares, and then we can praise as God does His work. The thing to notice in this passage is not that praise won them the victory but that they turned to God and praised because He was going to deliver them. They didn’t praise to get something, they praised because they had already been promised it and were in the midst of getting it.
This doesn’t mean we look for some obscure promise in the Bible, and then if we want it we can “activate” it by praising God for it. No, this is simply a moment in the grand scheme, a slice of redemptive history. The lesson for us is that we should turn to God when we are surrounded by enemies, which spiritually speaking, is always. The world, the flesh, and the devil are always on the offensive against us. Then when God gives us a victory, we should praise His name. The power of praise is about recognizing the power of God. We should always be giving thanks to and praising God. We praise, not to get something, but because He is something.