“To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified”
Isaiah 61:3, New King James Version).
I overheard a conversation between two ladies at church, both going through difficult times. One had battled her situation for several months, the other not as long. The “veteran” was advising her friend, “When things get really bad, I just begin to praise.” For her, putting on the garment of praise was the way to find peace in the midst of life’s storm. Her advice was on target and biblical.
The Midnight Praise Session
Acts 16:16-40 tells the familiar story of Paul and Silas in a Philippian prison. Their trouble began with the healing of a damsel possessed with the spirit of divination (what we would call a fortune-teller). The jailer was charged to keep the two men safe, so he moved them to the inner part of the prison and, as an added measure, put their legs in stocks. This was no “country club” prison; and no one cared about their comfort. Yet, at midnight Paul and Silas put on their garments of praise and began to pray and sing. Can you imagine the amazement of the other prisoners? Circumstances did not matter; they focused on praising God. If their fellow prisoners were confused before, the earthquake that followed really grabbed their attention.
Covering Ourselves in Praise
How do worship and praise help when trouble and despair try pull us down? If we change our clothing—covering ourselves in praise to God—the heaviness lifts. Praise drives out negativity and worry. Faith increases and God steps into our circumstances to perform the miraculous. Isaiah 25:4 describes the Lord as “a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat” (English Standard Version).
When trouble overwhelms us, the enemy loves to fill our mind with worry and doubt. He desires to steal our faith and silence our praise. Rather than give in to his tactics and accept defeat, it’s time change our clothes. Let’s put on that garment of praise and start dancing.
“Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11).
Prayer: Lord, I claim victory over anxiety, doubt, and discouragement. When trouble comes my way, I will praise You. When the enemy fills my mind with negative thoughts, I will praise you more. I will put off my sackcloth and put on gladness and praise. You are my strength and place of safety.