The inability to enter into praise and worship is a sign that there is a substantial problem between God and us. The first thing to do is to identify the problem or problems (if more than one) and then deal with them properly. The same barriers that prevent us from praising God, may slow progress in our relationship with Him, stop that our prayers are answered or prevent us from being healed. Among the most common excuses are:
• “I’m an introvert!”
• “I am very shy, I’m embarrassed!”
• “I’m not very expressive!
• “It does not go with my personality!”
• “I do not feel motivated to do it!”
But, praise is a commandment from God and no excuse is valid!
Psalm 150:6: Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
All previous excuses and many more that have not been presented here are just pretexts intended to conceal the real barriers that prevent our praise to God. Below are the obstacles.
The Problem. Sin destroys our friendship and fellowship with God. Sin hinders us in the Presence of God. We feel dirty and we believe it is inappropriate to approach Him knowing His holiness and purity. Surely God is incompatible with sin and He invites us to be holy like Him. Some people are so accustomed to sin that are insensitive to identify as the reason that separates them from God. It’s like people who are accustomed to their own odors and do not distinguish when they smell bad
Psalm 66:18: If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.
Isaiah 59:2: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
The solution. Fortunately, God does not act the same way as us. Of course, all sin is an offense against God, but what we must do it is to confess our sin or sins and accept His forgiveness. God as the father of the prodigal son, will wait for us with open arms to give back all His love and friendship. He will never reject a contrite heart.
Psalm 51:1-3 O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Psalm 51:17: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Problem. The condemnation never comes from God, it is imposed by Satan who prosecutes us and sentences us. The enemy is the prosecutor who accuses us before God, and whoever attacks our mind reminding us of our failures as doing believe us that in no way God would forgive us. However, as soon as you’ve asked God for forgiveness, the next step is to forgive ourselves. The self-condemnation gives us a sense of unworthiness that urges us to “sink our heads” in shame in the Presence of God and to be so conscious of unworthiness that we forget the mercy and grace of God. We create awareness of our own nature rather than understanding God’s character.
John 3:19: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Romans 13:2: Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
1 Timothy 3:6: Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
The solution. God gives us the answer to the condemnation in His Word: There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus. We must stop thinking about ourselves and put our thoughts on Him. The more time we spend thinking about Jesus, the more will want to praise him. Definitely that His sacrifice on the cross was not in vain but to free us from the condemnation due to sin. Remembering that He took our place on the cross and saved us is reason enough for praise Him.
John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Hebrews 12:2: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Problem. Worldliness is nothing else than to take our minds and thoughts focused on the things of this world. It means to wish “dignity” or “propriety” rather than ministering to God in praise and worship. Many people are more aware of what others might think than to express themselves freely in worship.
Matthew 16:26: For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Ephesians 2:1-2: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
Colossians 2:8: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
The solution. The Word of God tells us about the following:
1 Peter 5:7: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
1 John 2:15-17: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The above verses explain themselves, before thinking about things of the world and what the world demands of us, let think about God and act accordingly obeying Him and not the world. The world may impose rules and customs, but none of them lead us to salvation because their values are contrary to God’s values.
The Problem. Being lukewarm or indifferent to the Lord often keeps us far from entering into praise and worship. Indifference or apathy keeps us from expressing our love for God. If we are indifferent we are showing that we care little praise and honor God. I have seen very often as many people remain indifferent to the congregational worship. Some people appear to be mentally absent from the temple at that time, others endure with annoyance when ministering to God.
Revelation 2:4: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Revelation 3:15-16: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
The solution. The answer is total return to God in repentance and then as an act of obedience, begin to praise him. God always have patience and will wait for us to come in repentance to Him, His love is eternal and His mercy is renewed every day.
Malachi 3:7: Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
The Problem. Rebellion against God, our parents or the authority that God has placed in the church, is a major impediment to worship. The rebel person does not recognize the rules because he or she makes his/her own rules or his/her own interpretation. At present time when the freedoms of the modern world have turned into licentiousness, is very common to find people who rebel against everything and complain about everything. Many of these people might be thinking of things like these during the period of the church service dedicated to praise and worship God:
• Why do I have to raise my hands or clap?
• Who is this musician to tell me what I have to do?
• I praise my way!
• Nobody tells me what I have to do!
• Where does it sayI have to dance?
• I believe God gave me the freedom to praise as I please.
1 Samuel 15:22,23: And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
The solution. To submit ourselves to the authority and to repent ourselves of the rebellion. Thus, we take again the path of obedience. Just as we accept the sermon that brings the preacher as inspired by God, we accept that the person in charge of leading worship is being led by the Holy Spirit to lead the congregation to the ministry that God expects and desires.
Hebrews 13:17: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
The Problem. Many people drag their personal problems to the church. If our hearts are not ready to praise God, a retaining wall will lift , which preclude the praise. All of us go through adverse situations that affect us: work, family, illness, etc.. It is not necessary to relocate these so heavy burdens on our shoulders but leave them at the foot of the cross.
2 Corinthians 4:8,9: We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.
The solution. As we get involved in praise and worship God in obedience, all the discouragement will leave our hearts. Praise and worship to our Lord are the best antidote to despair and boredom because our God is never boring, he is a God of action. Therefore, our attitude should be one of joy in the Lord.
Isaiah 51:11: Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
The Problem. It is totally impossible that we can praise and worship God if we are keeping in our hearts resentment toward others, to ourselves, or God himself. Anger darkens the mind and prevents us from enjoying the joy of exalting Him who lives forever.
James 1:19,20: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
The solution. To forgive those who have offended and do not allow anger dwell in our hearts. Like the despair, anger, wraph and resentment should be left out of the place where it meets the congregation to praise and worship God. We are not above God, who has forgiven all our sins. So what prevents us to forgive our neighbor?
Psalm 37:8: Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
Ecclesiastes 7:9: Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Ephesians 4:31,32: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Colossians 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
The Problem. Worry is a demonstration of doubt and disbelief, is the opposite of faith. It is impossible to enter into praise and worship if our thoughts are immersed in our personal problems. One of the most repeated phrases in Jesus ministry was “men of little faith.” This shows that many people have stage fright in moments of testing. They forget the history of God for their lives and think there is not a possible solution to their problem.
John 14:27: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The solution. To the extent that our eyes are focused on Jesus and the promises of His Word and instead of worrying, we take care of giving thanks for what He has done and for who He is, our hearts will be flooded with peace and praise to God begins flowing within us. Peter could walk on water all the time he looked at Jesus, but he began to sink as soon as his eyes faced the environment around him. The concern is another ingredient that should remain outside the atmosphere of praise and worship.
Matthew 6:25: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Philippians 4:6-7: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The Problem. When we are overcome by a spirit of depression because of our own circumstances, we are stopping the flow of praise in our lives. We would be like Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-14), who falling into depression fled and went into a cave. The natural tendency of the depressed person is became self-enclosed, it is like the attitude of the ostrich, burying its head in the sand to avoid facing reality.
1 Peter 4:12,13: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
The solution. Offering sacrifice of praise and beginning to rejoice. This is like an act of obedience to God, through which we dressed with a mantle of praise. Praise God in the test and the victory will come as a direct result of our praise.
Isaiah 61:3: To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Blessings for everybody.