Worship. Most people see it as singing hymns or spiritual music in church but it goes much deeper than this. Singing in and of itself is not worship, it’s just music. I remember hearing a story of a choir master who dies before his choir’s biggest concert. In heaven, he asks God if He would permit him to see the performance, to watch his church choir worship. God grants him his wish, and from his heavenly view the choir master is astonished to see only four singers on the stage. He turns to God and says,
“I don’t understand, there’s over fifty people in that choir. Why do I only see four?”
God replied, “You said you wanted to watch those worshipping Me. There they are.”
God is not looking for singers who create perfect harmony, guitar players who can play a sweet riff, or songwriters who can come up with the most biblical lyrics. He’s looking for worshippers, not performers. This goes for the congregation as well. Belting out a Bethel tune with eyes closed and arms raised, all the while wondering if you remembered to turn on the crock pot before leaving the house that morning. So not worship.
I’m not saying any of this to bust anyone’s chops, otherwise mine would be first on the chopping block.
I have gone through seasons where I looked like I was just going through the motions. Living out the first half of Proverbs 13:12, I would force myself to the front of the church during worship. Hands jammed in my pockets, eyes staring into space, I’d be thinking, ‘I’m here, and that’s all You’re getting out of me today.’ And in those rare times of my own personal worship-boycotting, I got back exactly what I put in. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
True worship doesn’t come out of duty, but of desire.
God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.” (Writer, John Piper)
What I’ve learned through these dry spells is to push past that sense of God’s silence, beyond the void of unanswered questions and unfulfilled promises. The enemy of our souls would love nothing better than for us to give up and stop doing that one thing that he knows is one of the greatest weapons we have in our arsenal-worship. It may feel awkward, stiff, and fake. But that’s not how God sees it. When you choose to praise when you’re going through a storm, God doesn’t see your worship as fake–He calls it faith.
Bill Johnson, in his sermon entitled, The War of Peace, said that ” A sacrifice of praise makes it easier to get access to His Presence. Sometimes it’s going beyond what is comfortable–it’s violating the suggestions of the enemy….”
When your life is in turmoil you have to force yourself beyond what’s happening in the natural to get into His Presence. In order to enter His gates, sometimes you have to push.
The Lord inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) Think of this for a moment. When you and I truly worship, focusing our affections and devotion on Him alone, we create a platform for God to land on. Essentially, we’re like a landing pad for heaven to come to earth. He wants hang out with those who know how to worship in spirit and in truth –He makes it a party (at least at my church!)
Worship isn’t only packaged in music. Author Rick Warren says that “anything we do that brings God pleasure is worship.” This gives me hope. That means that when I’m out for a run in the forest and I say, “Wow God. You sure knew what you were doing when You put this river here. It’s beautiful!” it’s worship. When I take the time to speak a word of kindness to a stranger, it’s worship. Talking to God while I clean my home (which may or may not sound more like, “Oh, Gawd!!!”) technically, is worship. Be happy in what you’re doing, and God will meet you there.
He loves to hear us gush over Him. He doesn’t have an ego that needs to be stroked, but when we say, “I love you, Lord. I think You’re awesome,” it gives Him something to respond to. Our praise moves things. It moves Him. It’s like we’re showing Him a mirror. Whatever we show Him, He reflects back to us. We tell him how wonderful He is and he reflects that “wonderfulness” back to us. This kind of worship opens the door to revelation and prophesy; when you are in His Presence, you become more intimately aware of what He’s saying to and about you.
This is what I want. More of Him, less of me. Worship not performance.
Yes and amen.