TEACH ME TO WORSHIP
When was the last time you worshiped God in your own home, by yourself? I don’t mean simply opening your bible and reading and praying, although that could be part of it. I mean, when was the last time you were so overcome with the presence and holiness of God that you could not help but bow the knee, raise your hands and lift your voice in praise, not caring that there was no one else there to join you? Depending on your personality type and the mood you are in, it may not look like that when you worship God at home, but do you worship in your home on your own? Or is worship reserved for only Sunday morning in church?
What does the word “worship” mean to you? Technically, it is “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity, usually expressed with religious rites.” In Christianity, worship is the act of attributing reverent honor and homage to God. That will likely look differently to each of us, depending on the circumstance, our mood, personality, etc.
I admit to having issues with our modern concept of worship. In being part of many church services in various churches over the years, I have observed that many worship leaders have a tendency to separate the music from the rest of the service and designate that portion as the worship time. Wait! What about everything else we do during the time we spend “doing church”? What about reading the scripture, giving my offering, and listening to the word of God being taught? Should these not also be considered acts of worship? Maybe we need to think about re-defining what we consider worship.
What does the Bible say is true worship? “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24) Jesus laid out what true worship is. First, it's to worship God in spirit and truth. Worshiping in truth means understanding who God is in all His holiness and recognizing the truth of His attributes as well as knowing that His word is truth. But what does it mean to worship God in spirit? I think, among other things, it means that our worship must originate from within - from the heart. It must be sincere, motivated by our love for God and by our gratitude for all He is and has done. Genuine worship cannot be mechanical, formalistic or work according to some kind of formula..
Worshiping in spirit is not something we program because it is a personal response to the Holy Spirit prompting our spirits. And the Holy Spirit must be involved. It is the Holy Spirit, not
man, who leads us into the presence of God and makes the worship of God more intimate and meaningful. Certainly the Spirit of God can use man to facilitate worship but it is the Holy Spirit who leads us into God’s presence and enables us to fellowship with Him. He inspires our spirit and brings us into communion with the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14-16).
In part, worship is an act of the will; it requires surrender without reserve. The Holy Spirit will not take us where we do not want to go. It is also direct communion with God – my spirit led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will be the prompter and enabler of true worship. We may not be genuinely engaged if we are not led by the Spirit but are only going through the motions because they are part of the program. That, too, is part of worshiping God in truth - being real.
When reading through scripture we cannot help but realize that worship is a huge topic. Very often those we read about were not in a church or synagogue, but alone and in situations that we do not usually consider an atmosphere conducive to worshiping God. Job lost his wealth and his family – everything he had, and it was at the time of his greatest loss that he bowed down and worshipped God. When king David’s young son fell ill and died, David worshipped His God. God’s Spirit beckoned and each responded in a communion that was a bitter-sweet act of total surrender to their Creator, Sustainer, and the Lover of their souls.
Worship is a very individual act. Some sing. Some remain silent while others sing and they concentrate on what the words to the songs are saying. Sometimes I have been so overcome by the lyrics of a song that I cannot sing. But my tears testify to the Spirit of God at work within me. And I worship.
In the book of Psalms we see many forms and manifestations of worship, such as beautifully spoken words of acknowledgement and praise, music from various instruments, worshipful dance, never any being out of control or dishonoring to the One being worshipped. Certainly, worship cannot be legislated; it is each person’s act of surrender, giving God the glory for who He is and what He has done. The apostle Paul reminds us that our worship needs to be orderly and not cause offence, but we also must be free to worship God as His Spirit directs. His Spirit leading my spirit. His Spirit prompting your spirit, honoring God.
I have a lot more to learn about honest, not-just-going-through-the-motions worship. Perhaps you do, too.
B. Klassen firstname.lastname@example.org