8 Barriers to worship and praise

barriers to worshipMany Christians struggle with diverse barriers to worship and praise. These believers offer many excuses and put forth great effort in explaining the reason why they fail to adequately worship and praise the Lord. Some people try to excuse themselves based on their natural tendencies or temperament. They claim that they are shy, that they are not naturally “expressive” or that they do not like to demonstrate their feelings.

The truth is that the Bible does not exempt anyone for any of these reasons. David said:

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! (Psalm 150:6).

If you have breath, then you must praise the Lord!

The dead do not praise the LORD, Nor any who go down into silence. (Psalm 115:17)

Many believers encounter difficult barriers to worship and praise, but God wants us to deal with each one of them. We must not accept any of them as valid reasons for failing to offer adequate praise to God. Some of the most common and difficult barriers to praise include the following:

Sin

Sin is perhaps the greatest barrier to praise and the basic reason why many new converts fail to praise God. It is also the reason why some mature Christians experience the same difficulty. Un-confessed sin inhibits us in God’s presence. We do not feel at ease or free in the presence of God if we are conscious of any sin that we have not yet dealt with in our lives. David said:

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. (Psalm 66:18)

Sin and iniquity separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2); it will cause us to lose the fellowship that we may have enjoyed before. The perception that we have sin in our lives binds our tongues before the Lord. The only thing that we really feel free to speak of in these circumstances is confession of our sin.

There is an obvious answer to the problem of this barrier: sincerely confess your sin to God and accept His forgiveness and purification so that a correct relationship can be restored and the flow of praise can once again be released (1 John 1:9).

Condemnation

Even though the Lord has forgiven us, we do not always accept this forgiveness completely or succeed in forgiving ourselves. Many Christians live in condemnation. Even though God has graciously forgiven them, they cannot forgive themselves, which in general is the result of feelings of unworthiness. The freedom to worship has been blocked. The sensation of the presence of God tends to make them more conscious of their unworthiness than of His mercy and grace which has been freely granted to all of us.

Generally, this attitude develops when someone becomes overly conscious of himself, instead of being conscious of God. If we are constantly weighing our hearts with a negative attitude, always searching for weaknesses and guilt, it is obvious that we will find them. Nobody is perfect. This ultra-critical self-examination is extremely unhealthy. It always focuses its attention on the ego and not on Jesus.

The Bible exhorts us to “look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). This involves at least two things:

In the first place, the more we look to Jesus, the more we think of Him, meditate on Him, and occupy our thoughts with Him, the more we desire to praise him. Praise begins as we look to Jesus and as we continue to contemplate him our admiration and appreciation for Him will continually grow and our awareness of his value will increase thus promoting more thoughts of praise and worship to him.

Worldliness

Oliver Cromwell once defined worldliness as “anything that chills our affection for Jesus Christ”. Worldliness is the opposite of spirituality; it is the predominant condition when we centralize our minds and thoughts on the things of this world instead of on the things of God and his kingdom.

People with worldly minds think that the praise of God is extremely embarrassing and offends their carnal feelings and dignity. The cure for this problem is to become more and more focused on Christ. In the measure that our consciousness and appreciation for Him increases, worldliness will decrease proportionately.

One of the symptoms of worldliness is the obsession of maintaining “dignity and decency”, an excessive consciousness “of what people will think”, or too much concern over what people’s reactions might be. Our first interest as Christians is to please the Lord, which will not always be agreeable to the carnal man. If we are too concerned about pleasing man and gaining his approval, we will certainly run the risk of displeasing God.

A wrong concept of God

A wrong concept of God is a strong barrier to praise. Many have a completely negative vision of God. They see Him as someone who is constantly trying to catch them in some fault in order to condemn them, someone who is against everything that they do. They think that there is little chance of pleasing Him and of enjoying His approval. They see God as a boogeyman, someone determined to prevent people from having any fun. How can anyone think of praising a God like that?

Praise begins to rise up in our hearts only when we receive the correct concept of God. The Holy Spirit must show Himself to us as He really is. The reading of the Word of God is a marvelous cure for the wrong concepts we have of God, but this only happens when we are open and permit the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us. Many people read the Bible with their minds closed to the truth. A true consciousness of God, of whom and what He is, will certainly lead us to praise and worship.

Religious traditions

In the days of Christ, many people allowed the vain traditions of man to invalidate the Word of God (Matthew 15:6). Unfortunately, many people do the same thing today. Many Christians who grew up in Christian traditions disproved of praise and worship, since traditions condemn praise as a mere manifestation of emotions.

Remember, “Religion oppresses, but redemption liberates”. In general, those who have been imprisoned by the traditions of men also have wrong concepts of God. To them, God is extremely negative, severe, totally devoid of emotion and a deity that prohibits everything.

Those who believe in a god like this become people with these same characteristics. The cure for this condition is to have the courage to expose human traditions boldly with the Word of God and an open heart and mind. Whenever the Holy Spirit reveals the errors of tradition, we should be willing to abandon them and embrace the Word of God in their place.

Pride

This is a difficult problem to deal with because of the lack of willingness to recognize pride in our own hearts. Our own selfishness does not allow us to do this! God however can break this type of pride and free the imprisoned.

Pride refers to the concern with self-image, the constant desire to maintain a good reputation, to be seen doing what is considered right and appropriate.

Fear of man

Proverbs 29:25 tells us that the fear of man is a trap. The fear of man, his thoughts and opinions creates a dangerous trap that imprisons many.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 9:10).

If we truly reverence the Lord, we will never have to fear man. One of the things that we most fear is the rejection of others. The great majority of people have a great fear of being ridiculed and the despised by others. When we praise the Lord, we must have within us the same spirit that David had when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He danced and gave praise to the Lord with all of his strength without being concerned with the opinions of others (2 Samuel 6:12-22). We cannot live like slaves to the expectations of others, seeking to please them all of the time. We must seek to please God first.

We should always seek to please the Lord in all things, and logically we must praise Him in order to do this. If others do not like this, it is their problem. Never allow man’s opinions to get in the way or hinder your desire and intention to give God the praise that is due Him.

Satanic repression

The most serious barrier to praise is a satanically inspired repression of it. It is difficult to understand the deep hate that Satan has towards God and how much he hates it when people praise the Lord.

Satan’s fall was due to his deep jealousy of God. In his pride, he sought to be greater than God was. He burns with irrational envy whenever we praise and exalt God. Therefore, he tries to discourage and suppress all praise of this type.

When someone is under the direct control of Satan or one of his demons, the person can hardly even speak the name of Jesus. When encouraged to do so, their throat becomes paralyzed and they simply cannot speak the words. When someone mentions the name of Jesus in the presence of such people, the demons within them become furious. Satan always reacts negatively at the simple mention of this name. Sometimes his victims foam at the mouth, begin to convulse, rail and blaspheme, so violent is this reaction to the praise of God or Jesus.

Conclusion

Whenever the Christian becomes aware of any aversion to praise, he should make a sincere examination of his heart. We must ask God in prayer to reveal the nature of our problem and whatever restricts or blocks the flow of praise. After we discover the problem, we must repent and abandon the cause of the interference. Then we need to direct our heart in obedience to God and give praises to Him.

If the flow of praise still seems impossible, we should seek the help of a spiritually mature and sensitive brother or sister in Christ. There may be satanic repression in some of us that must be broken. Until we take care of this, we will never be able to serve God adequately.

The inability to praise and worship God indicates rebellion in some area. Obviously, we must deal with the problems that such rebellion causes in order to release the flow of praise and worship in the lives of believers with this difficulty. We must continue to seek God until we get the victory overcoming all barriers to worship and praise and until the Spirit releases rivers of worship and praise within and through us!

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