By Melissa McLaughlin
Have you ever found yourself in an unexpected, unwanted situation and watched your mind and emotions spiral into a pit of ceaseless churning negativity?
Have you ever prayed long and hard for something, only to witness that prayer go unanswered and as a result then began to question God’s goodness or God’s love for you?
Have you ever gone through tough times and found yourself wondering where is God in all of this?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you are in good company. The experience of unwelcome twists and turns, unanswered prayers and difficult seasons are part of life, even for the most committed followers of Christ.
Maybe you prayed for your loved one’s healing and here you sit weeping at the funeral. Maybe you sought the Lord for guidance about the new job or new business venture and though you followed God’s leading, you are left numbly staring as it falls apart before your eyes. Maybe you prayed for a friend to surrender his or her life to Christ and yet you stand on the sidelines as they barrel forward on a path of self-destruction. The list goes on.
These are painful, sorrowful, troubling trials for everyone, even for those who have trusted their whole lives to Christ.
So where do we go from here?
In moments like these, one small change in my prayers has made a big difference. Praising over pleading.
Powerful Prayer Tool – Praising Over Pleading
Slowly, but surely, I am learning to praise the Lord when the hard times fall. Please understand, I am not praising the Lord BECAUSE of the difficulties, but IN SPITE of the difficulties.
Why? Simply put… God is worthy of my praise in life or death, in good times or bad times, in joy and in sorrow. No matter my circumstances, God is still God.
God is still the Creator of the universe with all its vastness, beauty, majesty, intricacy, masterful design, loveliness and life. He is the Giver of all good gifts. God is the One who gave each of us life itself. Then through the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ, He gives each one of us the opportunity for eternal life. I cannot “will” my heart to beat or “will” my lungs to send oxygen to my body. Every beat of my heart, every breath that I breathe is by His mercy, power and sustaining grace alone. God alone is the Creator, Sustainer and Provider of my life.
God’s character has not, nor ever will change. God is still the Great I AM. He is all-seeing, all-knowing, ever-present. God is sovereign, just, righteous, holy and true. God is also forgiving, kind, merciful, gentle, faithful, loving and good.
Furthermore, God is interested in our ultimate good. Though He provides countless blessings in this life, the greatest blessing is being close to Him now and forever. God will allow difficult experiences and seasons in this temporary life, to bring us to Himself for all eternity. Being in close relationship with God is always the greatest gift He can ever give.
A Reason to Praise
Whenever I am feeling particularly unloved or unlovable, I remind myself of this Bible verse and abiding truth:
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
No matter what our circumstances, feelings, experiences or culture may tell us, God has already proven His love for us through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. When Jesus laid down His life for us on the cross, we were saved from hell, our sins were forgiven and we are assured our place in heaven forever. There is no greater gift of love!
So, I invite you today to power up your prayers with praises!
Praise God for the gift of life!
Praise God for the gift of food, water and shelter!
Praise God for the gift of clothing, shoes and warmth!
Praise God for the gift of family and friends!
Praise God for the gift of your church family!
Praise God for the gift of opportunities, education and jobs!
Praise God for the gift of finances or provisions!
Praise God for the gift of speaking, listening, reading, writing, walking, driving and more!
Praise God for the gift of His truth, revealed in the Bible!
Praise God for the gift of His Son, Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again!
Praise God that Jesus defeated sin, hell and death!
Praise God that Jesus reigns!
Praise God that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of all who believe in Him and confess Him as Savior and Lord!
Praise God that His Holy Spirit is within you, leading and guiding you every step of the way!
Praise God that this world is not our home, heaven is just up ahead!
Praise God for what He has already done in your life and the lives of your loved ones!
Praise God for what He is currently doing and will do to bring about His plan for ultimate good in your life and in the lives of your loved ones!
Praise God that He is for us!
Praise God for who He is – for His power, goodness, truth, love, mercy, grace and faithfulness!
Praise God that One so great, would love us, mere dust of the earth!
Praise God for the ability to praise Him IN SPITE of your circumstances.
God is Worthy of Praise
Praise the Lord not BECAUSE of the difficulties but IN SPITE of the difficulties!
Why? Because no matter what, God is still worthy of praise.
In my college years, I learned a simple praise song by Keith Green that I sing whenever the hardships grow heavy. The song is called “Jesus is Lord of All” and the lyrics are as follows:
Jesus is Lord of all, Jesus is Lord of all,
No sin is too big, no problem too small,
Jesus is Lord of all.
Jesus is King of Kings, my Lord is King of Kings,
Presidents, princes, paupers will sing,
Jesus is King of Kings.
Jesus Christ is Lord of all,
King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
You know he’s Lord of all.
Jesus is coming soon, Jesus is coming soon.
Just look in your heart and see if there’s room.
Cause Jesus is coming soon.
This song is one of my prayer battle tools. It is simple and easy to sing and rolls right off my tongue, even through the tears, even through the fears, because this song is true though I breathe my last breath! Jesus is still Lord! And I’m so glad! This abiding joy comes from the Lord and cannot be shaken.
A few years back, I had a friend who was going through a heartbreaking situation and I mentioned this powerful prayer tool of praise. When I asked if she had tried praising the Lord, she said, “Yes, I keep asking God to help me.”
I attempted to clarify that while it is wise and completely appropriate to ask God for help, we must then move from pleading in prayer to praising in power.
Empower Your Prayers – Shift from Pleading to Praising
When we shift from pleading to praising, we acknowledge to ourselves and to God that He is more powerful and more beautiful than our earthly sadness and distress. We remind ourselves that God is still God and is moving and accomplishing things we cannot see or could never imagine.
When we forget to praise the Lord, we allow Satan to trap us in our thoughts and detour us into a place of never-ending, constantly swirling hopelessness. When we are trapped in this place of negative pleading, we cannot remember who God is, we cannot remember what God has done and we lose confidence that He is still working things out for our ultimate good.
Though we can and should request God’s assistance in every area of our lives, our prayers are empowered mightily when we turn from pleading to praising. When we praise God in the bad times, we are given the precious opportunity to prove our faith in Him and to bring Him a true sacrifice of praise. In addition, through the process of praising God, we thwart the goal of Satan to keep our minds and emotions focused on our problems instead of on our God.
Power up your prayers today! Magnify the Lord, not your discouragement! No matter the sorrows you feel or the hardships you bear, choose praising over pleading and see what the Lord can do! Sometimes, the biggest thing God needs to change is our outlook or perspective. Praising over pleading keeps our spirits centered on God and gives Him an open door to sweep through our hearts and minds with His sweet Presence and steadfast love.
What helps you switch from pleading to praising in prayer? Please share your tips. For further reflection on praising the Lord through difficulties, please read my blog post entitled, The Joy of Brokenhearted Praise.
As I write these final words, I am praying even now for each person who reads this article, that the Holy Spirit will cause you to remember a scripture and song to anchor your heart and mind in praise of our great God, come what may! May Jesus Christ be Praised now and forever! Lord, I Lift Your Name on High! How Great is our God!
Hebrews 13:14-15 – For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.
Photo ©Melissa McLaughlin
My Book Available on Amazon: In Dark of Night When Words Fail, Voice of Jesus Pray For Me
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How To Pray According to God’s Will By Melissa McLaughlin
How Can We Give Thanks in All Things? By Melissa McLaughlin
Will You Take the Paper Gratitude Challenge? By Melissa McLaughlin
Amen Melissa, you are preaching the truth! My suffering with Celiac has taught me that and yes, I did answer yes to all of those questions. The Lord led me through some very dark valleys and at times I thought I would die. The evil one tried hard to get me to focus on the disease and he tried hard to make my heart angry at God, but the Lord prevailed through it all and He gave me the victory. Praise God that He never gives up on us and He will never leave us nor forsake us! God bless you!
Praise God! Ryan, you truly have a special message and ministry because of the suffering you have endured. May He use your life, your faith and your story to bring many to Christ!
Praising Him gives me peace. Praising Him changes my thoughts from fear to faith. 🙂
Well said, Melissa, well said! It sounds so small, so simple, but praise is a forceful agent of change in the hearts of God’s people! Praise the Lord!
Thank you for this encouragement, Melissa. It is HARD to praise God when you are in the heat of the battle, but I, too, am learning the value of this. As you said, God is always worthy of our praise, regardless what life looks like and what we are going through. I pray He blesses you today!
Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences and insights. I agree, it is difficult to praise the Lord in the heat of battle, but when we do the winds of battle shift, leaning toward the only One by which we can be can be saved. May we turn to Him in praise with our first cry! Bless you, sister!
When we praise him, we lift our eyes from ourselves and our circumstances to the One Who Has All Power- Jesus.
I have found it helpful to read the Psalms out loud to God as prayer when I get down.
Amen! Keeping our eyes on Jesus changes everything! I love your suggestion of reading the Psalms out loud! I have used that one, also. God’s Word has a power that goes deeper than our words can say. Praise the Lord!
So good and so true!!!! Praising puts on a different plane…a higher plane in prayer. When we praise we are God-centered instead of self-centered!
Amen! You said it, Valerie! Praising the Lord puts us on a higher plane of prayer! May we remain God-centered that His eternal blessings and joy will always shine brighter than our deepest darkness!
Amen thank you for reminding us of that Keith Green song. His music is so uplifting! And yes, through these days of weakness, I have found that praising Jesus as the last thing before I sleep, and the first thing as I wake up, is changing the way I face my days. When the trial is the heaviest, He brings back those praises to my thoughts again, and I know He is carrying me right there. It is such a beautiful giving that He pours on us in those places of praising. Thank you for your precious words, Melissa!
Oh Bettie, you are amazing! You live out these truths moment by moment. May the Lord bless you with His nearness and lift your pain today. Your faith is a precious gem. By His grace, He reminds us of these simple praise songs, but there is power in these little words and melodies when we praise His name! God bless you, dear sister!
Praise the Lord not BECAUSE of the difficulties but IN SPITE of the difficulties! Such wonderful advice in that simple sentence but sometimes so hard to do. Thanks for the great encouragement
Thank you, Yvonne, for pausing for a moment during your trip, to read and share here! May the praise of our sweet Lord be the strength of your heart this day!
Melissa, I remember being taught to “preach to my heart what I know to be true about God” when I would get discouraged or in some difficulty. I have a couple of verses that are my “go to” verses. The one I use most is Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Remembering the Greatness and Goodness of God brings praise.
Those are good ones, Beth! Both the quote and the verse! I heard a similar quote “Remember to believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts.” We know God is great and God is good. May we preach it to ourselves first!
This shift in perspective is so powerful and it works! The fact is we have to intentionally do it for ourselves 🙂 It takes hard work to be an overcomer!
It’s true, Julie, changing this perspective is simple, powerful and it really works! It does take intentionality to refocus on God, as we naturally slip into focusing on our problems. By His strength, we can overcome!
Great advice. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Dee! May the magnificence and beauty of our amazing God ring louder in our hearts than any problem we face!
It is funny how praise opens up our ability to hear from God more clearly. Very good.
Amen! Well said. When we focus on our problems, it becomes very difficult to hear clearly from God. Praising Him opens our sense to Him!
Melissa, there is so much truth in this post! When we choose to praise in the midst of difficult circumstances, we honor our Father. At one particularly painful point in my life, God challenged me to sing praises with our congregation. I didn’t want to. But, there was a release when I chose to humble myself, acknowledge that He is always worthy of praise, and sing to Him. Praising Him is powerful for our spirit and in honoring our Father.
Jeanne, what a powerful example you have given. When we honor Him, He can accomplish things in us and through us that cannot be accomplished any other way. Praising through pain is a sacred offering. May we remember well!
I guess it is about watching your p’s and q’s, well in this post just your p’s and praise is way better than pleading!
Ahhh, good one! You always have a great way of expressing your thoughts! Watch your p’s is right. Though so small, it makes a huge difference!
Spoken like someone who knows!
It’s humbling to set everything aside and just simply praise God when we are going through difficulty–praise Him NO MATTER WHAT. He truly is Lord of all.
Oh it’s true, Jessica! And humbling ourselves never comes easily or naturally. But Jesus is worthy of all praise from now until our dying day! May we remember the power of resting in His praise!
This is beautiful, Melissa. As you know I was going through a rough time last month. During that time, I had a dream one night in which a friend gave me this very same message. In the dream she said “praise God instead”. What wonderful, transformative advice.
Dear Stephanie, I do remember you were going through a tough time recently. Thank you for sharing more about your experience here. Wow! God moved in a powerful way in your life to draw you unto Himself, through the message of your dream. It’s amazing when the Holy Spirit intervenes and confirms His truth through various people in various ways. What an amazing God! Though it’s not easy to praise the Lord when we are in the midst of suffering, carrying heavy burdens or brought low through discouragement, it truly changes everything to refocus on God and His goodness. May we become and more and more adept at switching gears into praise! I’m praying that the Lord continues to show Himself mighty in your situation today. Bless you!
Yes, such wonderful truth here! I have found there is SUCH a difference in my heart and my attitude when I praise Jesus instead of just plead with Him. And I love that you pointed out we should praise Him for who He is, not just for what He’s done. I have been trying to get into the habit of praising Him for different aspects of His character whenever I pray. It’s been wonderful!
I agree, Emily! I try to begin my prayer time with Psalm 93 because it echoes of God’s majesty, sovereignty and power. From there I love Romans 5:8 because His goodness shines through any darkness with that verse! I think we could enter into endless praises and prayers if we really tried to enjoy all of God’s amazing qualities. May we do so more and more. What joy!
God inhabits praise. We miss so much when we fail to praise. Great post. God bless!
Such simple, but profound truth, Nancy! We can sense God’s presence in praise because He is with us in that moment. Praise draws us into the place we belong, the creation enjoying the Creator, the child loving the Father. How wonderful!
Hallelujah! This post has me singing praising and declaring how the Lord is worthy to receive all the praise and glory and honor and power! Love this thought, “Praise the Lord not BECAUSE of the difficulties but IN SPITE of the difficulties!” Amen, my sister in Christ.
And I remember Keith Green fondly and his worshipful songs and lyrics. One of my favorites that still plays in my soul:
Oh Lord, you’re beautiful,
Your face is all I see,
For when your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me
Hallelujah! I’m singing His praises with you, dear Karen! He is worthy of our praises, no matter what! When we switch into praising mode, our sorrows fade into the background and we get caught up in the beauty of our Savior! Such joy! And by the way, I love that Keith Green song, too – Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful. Singing with you as I type!
Ahhh…. that you would pray for those reading this blog? You are so thoughtful. Thank you! Have you ever read “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp? She also recognizes the power of praise and thanksgiving. I think, from my experience, it is getting the eyes off of oneself and onto Him that helps the hurt and fosters the healing.
Praying for you even now, Lisa! I have not read “One Thousand Gifts”, but I looked it up and that sounds like a treasure! That is on my reading list, thank you for sharing. Your advice is simple, but powerful. Eyes off of me and eyes on Christ instead. When I see His eyes of love looking down upon me from the cross, I remember His suffering for my eternal healing. Where our eyes are – is where our treasure is and where our treasure is….
I love this, Melissa. God has done and continues to do so much for us. Yes, of course there are many things to praise Him for. Thank you for all of this positivity on my commute home. 😊
It’s true, Stephen, we have so many reasons to praise the Lord! I’m glad I was able to add some positivity to your commute home! God bless you!
I love your praise reminders, Melissa! It’s so easy to get caught up in the spiral of pleading. It never makes me feel any better. For me, the switch to praise comes with a walk outside, reading a devotional or searching Scriptures, and writing down what I am thankful for. Remembering prayers thru praise help me start my day in a much better way. Thank you 🙏
Thank you, Jamie! Glory to God, the Giver of all good gifts! I appreciate your suggestions for switching from pleading to praising. Sometimes we literally need to change our environment with a walk or change our mindset with a scripture or devotional. The beauty is, the more we praise the Lord, the more we see His hand at work, the more we love Him and it keeps spiraling up!
Beautiful and needed post in my life. I call this type of praise a sacrifice of praise. Even when all in life is not working out quite as we planned, we praise God for Who He is not just what He does. He is not our genie in the sky, He is our Creator and He deserves our praise. All that He does in our life, whether we understand or not, is for our good. The unknowns require a deeper faith on our part. Thank you for this! 🙂
I love the way you put this, Marcie! He is not our genie in the sky. May our faith in who God is and how He brings forth His glory and goodness in our lives, help us rest while in the unknowns, with that deeper faith you described here. This is the serious faith, purified like gold!
Thank you. I needed this!
You are welcome, Nicole! I’m so thankful this message was helpful to you. I need this message for myself every day. It takes absolute intentionality to praise God. May we see His goodness at every turn, so that praises pour forth!
Melissa, this is good! And so true. With everything I have been dealing with lately I will admit I pleaded for guidance but in the same prayer I would praise for what He was going to do and foe who He is.
This will go in my post picks for the month. I tried to reblog it, but your widget didn’t work.
Awww, thank you for the kind words of encouragement, Stu! Glory to God! Thank you also for letting me know about the widget not working. I have had 2 or 3 people report some glitches to me with my website and I truly appreciate it. If someone doesn’t let me know, I have no idea.
I know you have been going through a lot and yes, we all bring our requests to the Lord and plead for His help. I think the key is to do what you did, move on from there to praising the Lord so we are not stuck. It’s never easy to praise the Lord in the tough times, but it shifts the atmosphere of our hearts, minds and souls and allows room for the Holy Spirit to move us. Lord, let us see more of your glory that we may praise you no matter what!
You’re welcome about the widget. Some of my stuff has been working too well lately either. It is hard to praise through the rough times. But you are so right in how it changes our hearts when we praise Him. It takes the focus off of us and onto Him. That’s where it should be regardless of the season.
Our God inhabits praise. When we praise, He lifts our spirits too. God bless!
So true, Nancy! We can sense His presence when we praise Him and this truth is made sure in His Word.
Psalm 22:3 – But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
And I agree, when we praise Him, He lifts our spirits! Bless the Lord, oh my soul!
This was so needed today! Praising over pleading. I am going to hold on to this and soak in the power of the Holy Spirit as I focus on Him and all the praise He is worthy. Thank you for writing this with such conviction.
I’m so grateful it was an encouraging word for you! Praise the Lord! I’m soaking in the power of the Holy Spirit with you, as we praise our mighty God together! Worthy is the Lamb!
Hey Melissa! A lovely blog post indeed!! I just about wrote one somewhat on the same lines though not entirely, if time permits, do check it out as i have recently begun my blog. either way, no worries! God is working mightily in and through you, keep going! God bless ya!
I will definitely check out your blog! Thank you for sharing and welcome to the blogging community. May the Lord bless you through it all. It is always so special to me, when the Holy Spirit places a similar message on different hearts. He can shine different facets of the same truth for us to see more of His beauty. May our hearts be drawn to praise Him over and over again!
Hey Melissa! I’m so grateful to God for all the encouragement He has poured into me through you! Nice to be welcomed, my friend. Yes, we are all walking the same story and hence, when what we share overlaps? It’s like we aren’t alone! Hallelujah 👑
Hallelujah! Because of Jesus, we are never alone!
Immanuel – God WITH us. Thank you for the lovely reminder! Amen👑
Amen! I just read your blog posts. Powerful truth and encouraging messages! Bless you! But I wasn’t able to comment. Just know I appreciate and value what God is doing through your life and writing. Keep on writing, sister!
Hey Melissa! I feel like coming over and giving you a warm hug so here it is 🤗 I don’t know why you weren’t able to comment though . Feel free to connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever feel the need. I pray , Heavenly Father, that You would continue to work IN and through us as is a part of Your Sovereign Plan, guard is under the shadow of your Mighty Wings, and let the Shalom of Heaven envelope us, in Jesus’ Name I pray Amen👑
Reblogged this on Calling forth and Sending out and commented:
Thought this was so very encouraging and wanted to share it with you today….
I really enjoyed your post as I am one of those who have been pursuing prayer in a greater measure since the beginning of this year. I have walked with the Lord for the past 25 years as adult and I have always believed in the power of prayer, knowing that He hears, that He loves it when I praise. But this year I proclaimed a year of shifting in my own personal prayer life. This post goes with that. I am being tested on this, not by God so much as by my own commitment to do this. Praising when you don’t feel anything answers or don’t feel that it is being worked on, but simply because I believe it to be. Not always easy, but trusting He is walking it with me. Thank you for posting this.
Praise the LORD! It is always exciting when the Holy Spirit puts similar messages on different people’s hearts for Him to bring about various facets of His plans for us. I’m praying for you even now, that in your heart, mind and spirit, you will be overwhelmed with the goodness of God and that alone will be reason enough to shout His praises! The LORD is good and His mercy endures forever! We have seen His great mercy in the face of Christ! Hallelujah!
God bless you, Markus!
you too,i am glad to have u here