January 19, 2024

A most unusual battle plan

You won’t be disappointed

Shenalyn Page

I’ll never forget that day. I stood in our front yard, throwing our dog’s ball and absentmindedly watching our three young children. Tears flowed out of my eyes and dripped off my chin. We’d recently been told that we would have to move out of a home we loved. We had been looking for a new home for weeks, and nothing fit what we felt we needed. Time was running out. If we didn’t find a place soon, we would be stuck in a little apartment. With three little ones, this was far from ideal.

That’s when God taught me a transformative lesson about praise and thankfulness. My mother-in-law suggested that I try thanking God for everything that seemed to be wrong. I had nothing to lose, so I took the kids inside and we wrote a list, thanking God for every single thing that was stressing me and praising Him for what He was going to do on our behalf.

I started with tears streaming down my face. I finished with hope again.

A Most Unusual Battle Plan

When was the last time you attacked your problems with praise? It’s not our natural battle plan. And yet that is exactly what King Jehoshaphat did.

A great multitude of Judah’s enemies had gathered to destroy God’s people. The terrified people had rushed to Jerusalem to seek protection. King Jehoshaphat “feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chron. 20:3). The people “gathered . . . to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah that came to seek the Lord” (verse 4).

God heard the people’s earnest prayers and sent a prophet with the promise of victory. “Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you” (verses 15-17).

Enter the praise team! King Jehoshaphat and all the people joined in a joyous praise session. The next morning, the praise team “went out before the army and were saying: ‘Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever!’ ” (verse 21).

God went to work when they began to sing praises, and set ambushes against their enemies. By the time the army arrived at the battlefield, all their enemies were defeated.

Praise may be an unusual battle plan, but it’s an effective one!

Praise Invites God Into Our Pain

One of the Hebrew words for praise is hālal. It is the word that gives us our English word “hallelujah,” and means to “boast about” or “celebrate.”1 Praise is celebrating who God is and what He does. Praise is a choice we make to celebrate God’s goodness, even when life is at its worst.

That is exactly what Paul and Silas did at midnight in the Philippi jail. They had been flogged and thrown into jail for casting the demons out of a slave girl. Instead of moaning and cursing, Paul and Silas did something that shocked their fellow prisoners. They prayed and sang praises because they knew that God had not changed even though their circumstances had.

When we choose to praise God in our difficulties, we invite God into them. God inhabits the praises of His people (see Ps. 22:3, KJV). When you exalt God’s goodness instead of your problems, you are inviting God to dwell with you more fully. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I want!

God showed up when Paul and Silas started praising, and His footsteps shook the earth. A mighty earthquake shook open the prison doors, and the prisoners’ chains fell off. Praise invited God into their prison, and He set them free.

The Reasons for Praise

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4).

God invites us to come into His presence with praise for several important reasons:

Praising God for who He is and what He does shifts our focus off of ourselves and our problems. It creates an attitude of awe in our hearts so that we can “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 96:9).

Exalting God’s goodness shrinks our pride. When we realize how great He is, we recognize how weak we are and how dependent we are upon Him (Job 42:5, 6). That’s a good thing for us!

Celebrating God helps us learn to speak the language of heaven. Revelation 4 and 5 give us a vivid description of God’s throne room in heaven. Everyone there is all about praising God. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12).

Praise helps to strengthen our faith. Focusing on God’s faithfulness in the past helps us to believe that He will be faithful to us today, too. “O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isa. 25:1).

Our praise will strengthen others’ faith in God. Paul and Silas’ praise session led to the conversion of the jailer. Your praise can do the same thing. When you trust God enough to praise Him in spite of the problems in your life, those around you will recognize that there is something different about your God and will want to know Him for themselves.

Ellen G. White put it this way: “If more praising of God were engaged in now, hope and courage and faith would steadily increase.”2

The Battle Won

“God, I praise you that we can’t find a home in the country that we can afford,” I had prayed that day. I couldn’t see it then, but God was working through the delay and apparent impossibilities. As we neared the end of the window for buying a house, my husband and I were led to the story of Jericho and the Israelites’ seven-day march around the city. We decided to “march around” our Jericho—finding an affordable home out in the country that wasn’t too far from my husband’s work.

For seven days we stopped house hunting and spent our time praying and fasting. God worked miracles during that time and led us to a home that has been perfect for our family.

I still don’t understand all of God’s ways, but I do know this:

No matter what battles you are facing today or how overwhelming they may seem, this promise is for you: “Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed . . . for the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you’ ” (2 Chron. 20:15-17).

Start praising God for His goodness and faithfulness. Then watch to see how He steps into your life in amazing ways. You won’t be disappointed.

1 Shelley D. Quinn, Pressing Into His Presence (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 2010), p. 40.

2 Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1917), p. 202.