What’s the Hype about Praise? (a/k/a “The Time I Ran Around the Church”) Part 1

I think we need to get one thing straight: demonstrative worship – and by that, I mean raising your hands, dancing, shouting, jumping, and all the accoutrements associated with Charismatic, Pentecostal, Full Gospel, or whatever other type of worship – does not make one more spiritual than the non-jumper, hand-waver, dancer . . . you get the point. For those of us who attend the above-mentioned type of churches, because we are encouraged to be “free” in worship, we might get the mistaken idea that the “freer” you are somehow translates into being a better Christian. Hey, I have no issue with a worship style preference or cultural tradition. I say to each her own. But, as the young folks say, “don’t get it twisted” – all that sweating and shouting isn’t winning you extra brownie points in heaven. Truthfully, I have been in services where people have been pressured to perform by overzealous worship leaders who gauge their own effectiveness (read “anointing”) by the emotional response of the audience. How utterly ridiculous. I mean, really, you don’t have to observe people very long to know that being able to exhibit appropriate church behaviors in whatever religious setting does not equate to integrity, character, a vibrant prayer life, personal Bible study, and being an active witness. These really are far better barometers of spirituality. So then, what’s all the hype about praise?

I tend to be by nature reserved. I am naturally an introvert. I am reflective and extremely sensitive. When I used to go out dancing, I was always self-conscious (probably because I was never really any good), unlike my sister who was loud and danced with gusto. Guess who is more inclined on Sundays to “throw her hands in the air and wave ’em like she just don’t care”? So then imagine what happened when in the midst of praise and worship I took off running around the church?

Let me pause here and place my life in context. I was recovering from the lowest point in my personal and spiritual life. For months prior, I was in such a state of depression that I purposely arrived at church just in time to hear the message and left before the benediction so that I would miss praise and worship and not have to talk to anyone when church was over. The idea of sitting through praise and worship was enough to drive me over the edge. It just felt too hypocritical. But, in time, with the support of my family, I started the journey of walking through the darkness. I didn’t feel God’s presence, but stepping over my doubts, I kept walking, trusting in the Word of the Invisible God.

On this particular Sunday morning, my brother, Pastor Paul, was leading the praise and worship service. I forget now what he said, but it resonated with me. And I took a step of faith and raised my hands and started praising God out loud. I told God how much I loved Him. I told Him that He was faithful and good. I told Him that I trusted Him, and soon the crowd was gone. (This brings tears to my eyes as I type this.) It was just God and me. And His presence, which I felt had eluded me so for so long, was real. I experienced His joy, healing and love wash over me, and I wasn’t just praising God, I was shouting. I couldn’t contain myself, and I don’t know when it happened, but, before I knew it, I was running. As if  from another planet, I heard my brother say something like, “Well, the Spirit of God must be here because this is a first.”

In the next post, I will write about what happened next. In the meantime, I’m going to shut down this computer and get my praise on!

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About Gail Krahenbuhl

Director of Gracious Women's Ministries, Wheaton Christian Center
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10 Responses to What’s the Hype about Praise? (a/k/a “The Time I Ran Around the Church”) Part 1

  1. Lisa Shebar says:

    I love your story, Gail, and what your brother said is both accurate and humorous. Thank you for sharing another helpful and heartfelt message that both challenges and touches me, as you have the gift of doing with your readers.

  2. James Parker says:

    God always rewards our diligent pursuit of Him with His presence. King David experienced the fullness of His joy and responded by unashamedly dancing out of his clothing. True liberation demands a response, good for you.

  3. Courtney Powell says:

    Gail, I think I was there when this happened. I don’t recall Pastor Paul’s comment, but I know I saw you take off! God’s hand on you has been so obvious. You haven’t been the same since. Continue to press in. God is going to take you to an even deeper level.

  4. Alyse says:

    Once again this is good. I love it how you don’t hold back and because of that the reader can get to understanding of the love of God! Keep on posting because your great at this and many people need this.

  5. Marvlun says:

    Once again I am truly moved by your willingness to share your love for Our Heavenly Father and your journey/ your diligent pursuit of Him!!! I love how you said; and the crowd was gone!!! An Audience of one!!! The One:-) The Lover of My Soul that loves us more than we can ever truly know… I am in Awe of Him, and of His love for us!!! Thank you Gail for being Transparent and Posting this very timely and relevant blog!!! I am looking forward to the next one… Keep them coming…. God bless you!!!

  6. Fiona says:

    Captivating and very real.

  7. Celina A. Wise says:

    Dear Gail,
    I find it so amazing that we have only been friends for a short time and yet you can read my mind. I also often show up to church just in time to have Praise and Worship come to end.
    I can also reflect on times that I am in the service literally lost in his presence in the sanctuary and the musicians will strike a chord so strong (secular in nature) that jolts me back into attention. I have over the years come to realize that I value the quiet time with God. I’m not against the Praise and Worship by any means, but for me it’s the soft melody and the harmony that draws me closer. Thank you for your blog.

  8. Pat Williams says:

    Dear Gail,
    I have just finished reading your blog, “What’s the Hype about Praise”. I am deeply touched by your story and insights. You are so dear to me and I am cheering you on. You are teaching in a most personal way. I’m looking forward to your next entry.
    God Bless You,
    Pat

  9. Alisa Pringles says:

    Oh Gail, Just reading this has touched my heart in so many ways. I do remember this day, I weeped when I read about your valley, but I weeped for your freedom. It has helped me to know that there is a light at the end of my own lonely tunnel. And to also know that I am not alone. Thank Again for your honesty and openess.

  10. Prisca Soko says:

    Gail, just imagine yourself in the midst of real worship and completely unaware of anyone around you except for God’s presence and the master of ceremony comes and cut short the worship team and start to make announcements of weddings, conferences which are coming etc……..

    How far do you deeply fellowship with God in Praise and Worship when someone else is controlling the program who has a different way of perceiving things spiritually?

    I really enjoyed your reading this blog and it has left me with so many questions on why sometimes we limit ourselves………

    God inhabits the praises of His people!

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