My mother loves the book of Psalms. There are no problems of life that don’t have an answer in the book of Psalms or to be more specific there is no life’s problem that she doesn’t have a prayer passage in the book of Psalms. Her favorites were Psalm 35, Psalm 91, Psalm 121 and host of other Psalms. Growing up under her spiritual guidance made me believe the book of Psalms was essentially a prayer book, especially ‘hot psalms’ that has the power to deal with your enemies. Oh how I love to recite Psalm 91 back then, Psalm 23 and others as I decree protection over my life from all ‘enemies’. Today, now I know there is only one enemy that matters, Satan, and even this so-called enemy is a defeated foe! Hallelujah!
Then I found myself in the Pentecostal-charismatic circle as I grew up in the faith and discovered that maybe the book of Psalms is a book of Praise after all. Psalm 100 came alive along with Psalm 150 and host of other Psalms that exalts the greatness of God and his wondrous works! David was a man of praise, and indeed he was. He became the epitome of what praises should be to God! There are many singing groups today that are named the SPIRIT OF DAVID, and there is even a song by Fred Hammond with the lyrics, ‘When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon my heart, I will sing as David sang’. Essentially for we charismatics, the book of Psalms is the book of praise! And I love this praise chapter in Psalm 67:3-7.
‘Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. 4 O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. 5 Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. 6 Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. 7 God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him’
The power of praise is espoused in this scripture!
Given the two extreme views, i have had about the book of Psalms have had to ask myself what the book of Psalms is all about? Is it the book of prayer like my mother will have me believe or the book of praises as modern day charismatics will have me believe? And this struggle highlights not just the struggle of the Church but of everyone on the face of the earth, the struggle to find the right balance between two extremes. For the church, it is the struggle to find the balance between two scriptural extremes!
A friend helped me to provide some balance when he made the comment that often times people says the book of the Psalms is a book of praise but that much more than that it’s a book of prayer. He said David was not just giving to praise but to prayer. To put it the way he put it, he said the reason why David had so many things to thank and praise God for was because David prayed for so many things and received answers. In a manner of speaking, it means David’s prayer life set the pace for his praise-full lifestyle! Prayers set the pace for praises, where there are answered prayers there are loud full praises! If you consider the book of Psalms 18 you will see this laid out in bare, even the introduction to this Psalm tells us what it was all about: it was loud-full praise that came after David received answers to his prayers on deliverance from the hands of his enemies, especially Saul! In the previous chapters (Psalm 3-17), you will see a lot of prayers from David praying for the salvation of his soul from his enemies, the Psalms mentioned here are prayer based. But once God answered in Psalm 18, David switched to full praise.
I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. 5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. 6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. 7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. 8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. 9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. 10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
On and on David went here about the wonders of our God after God delivered him from Saul. Scripturally my friend’s conclusion looks like the truth, that prayers set the pace for praise, that David had loud praises because he had answered prayers. To an extent this is true, but it’s not the total truth! David didn’t only praise God after his prayers were answered, no, even in the midst of his challenges; David combined both the power of PRAYER AND PRAISE! One moment he is praying and in the next verse he is thanking and praising God! David was an intercessory worshipper: on one hand he has the bowls of his prayer and on the other hand, he has his Harp for praising the Lord, a spiritual combo which the church will do well to take heed to today(Revelations 5:8-10)
Look at these few Psalms. In Psalms 3 there were some prayers mixed with praises unto our God, this continue till Psalm 7 where there were some ‘hot prayers’ in verse 6 where David ask God to arise in his anger: ‘6 Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded’. Yet in all of this in Psalms 8 despite the fact that David doesn’t yet have answers to his prayers we saw a praise-full David praising the Excellency of our God!
‘O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
All spiritual principles are to be applied in combinations and not in isolations!
Read further in Psalms 28:1-5 and you will see prayers and then from verse 6-10 you will see praises unto God! David had that spiritual balance that juggles praise and prayer to great spiritual effect, and it was from here Paul borrowed a spiritual leaf while in the prison. Acts 16:25 tells us that Paul and Silas, prayed and praise God and then the power of their intercessory worship opened the prison gates! Whatever has closed against you is opening up this moment! Amen!
We are in the season in the body of Christ where the power of both PRAYER and PRAISE will be put to great effect. The generation gone forth has harped on the power of prayer, and then our generation came and harped on the power of praise. I have even heard someone says ‘she is not a prayer person but a praise person’, highlighting her preference to praising God than to praying, now what a misnomer there for scripturally that has no place. All spiritual principles are to be applied in combinations and not in isolations! We are having many 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours non-stop praise meetings, but we are coming to the time we will pray and praise like David. We will gather in 24 hours of intense worship and prayer, intense intercession and celebration all in equal measure as we bring down the earth-shattering power of God upon the earth. Many prison doors will be opened and as recorded in Revelation 5 our intercessory worship, prayers, and praise, will bring much harvest to the kingdom! Hallelujah! This is the tabernacle of David that will be restored to the body of Christ where both prayers and praise goes up in intercessory worship and prophetic intercessions unto God. The days of glory are here, saith the Lord!
This is the pattern David set forth in the book of the Psalms, it was a pattern where prayer and praise go together. The Psalms, therefore, is neither a book of praise or book of prayer, it is a book for both spiritual experience, a book for intercessory worship, a book of intercession and celebration!