Worship is probably the most familiar of the Spiritual Disciplines. Part of our history as a country was the fight for the freedom to worship God without government interference. The ability to express our love for God in our own heart language is essential to our spiritual health. God loves to hear our worship. What does it mean to practice worship as a Spiritual Discipline?
The Priority of Worship
You will worship something. It’s just a question of what it will be. The number one topic of the Bible is our worship of God. The children of God were constantly getting into trouble because of one thing only — idolatry — the worship of something other than God.
Jesus said, “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him” (John 4:23).
One thing is clear — God wants you to worship him. When you do that one thing consistently everything else falls into place (Matt. 6:33).
Jesus clearly understood what was most important when he said that the greatest and most important law was: “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Matt. 4:10).
If we really believe that God is who he says he is and we worship him, not out of a sense of duty, but because of who he is — then worship will have absolute priority over all other activities.
The Aspects of Worship*
1. Worship leads to confession.
To worship God is to see and experience him. To see him reveals the truth about ourselves. This always leads to confession.
When Isaiah caught sight of the glory of God he cried, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa. 6:5).
Foster writes, “The pervasive sinfulness of human beings becomes evident when contrasted with the radiant holiness of God. Our fickleness becomes apparent once we see God’s faithfulness. To understand his grace is to understand our guilt” (Celebration of Discipline, Foster, p. 160).
2. Worship leads to Thanksgiving.
We worship the Lord not only because of who he is but also because of what he has done.
The Apostle Paul said that worship was the only reasonable response when we realize all that God has done for us (Rom. 12:1).
3. Worship gives us a “holy expectancy.”
The people of the Bible would come to worship expecting God to show up. When Moses entered the tabernacle, he knew he was entering the presence of God.
When the high priest went into the holy of holies, they tied a rope to his ankle just in case he was found unworthy and God struck him dead. That way they would be able to pull him out without entering themselves. That’s taking worship seriously!
Some practical things you can do to have a “holy expectancy” about worship:
- Listen for the voice of God throughout the week.
- Enter the worship service ten minutes early, so that you can begin to prepare your heart for worship.
- Lift up to God the Pastor and other worship leaders. Pray that God will use them to speak to you.
- As people enter the room look for someone who might need your prayers. Perhaps their body language tells you that they need you to pray for them. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- Value the practice of “gathering together” for worship. Corporate worship brings a sense of unity to the body of Christ that transcends individualism. This is what the Bible called koinonia, deep inward fellowship in the power of the Spirit.
- Recognize Jesus as the only true leader of worship. He wants to teach you and guide you, comfort you and rebuke you. Listen for his voice as you worship Him.
The Avenues into Worship*
- Still all humanly initiated activity.
- Expression of Praise in Singing.
- The release of Emotion.
- Expression with Body Language.
Seven Steps to Worship*
1. Learn to practice the presence of God daily.
Really try to follow Paul’s words, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17)
2. Try many different experiences of worship.
Worship God when you are alone. Have home groups not just for Bible study, but for the very experience of worship itself. Gather little groups of two and three and learn to offer up a sacrifice of praise. Many things can happen in smaller gatherings that, just by sheer size, cannot happen in the larger experience.
3. Find ways to prepare for worship.
Prepare on Saturday night by going to bed early. It’s a good idea to have some quiet time with the Lord, early on Sunday, before you go to church. Do all you can to eliminate potential distractions.
4. Have a willingness to be gathered in the power of the Lord.
Be willing to let go of your personal agenda and experience God’s blessing in ways you didn’t imagine.
5. Cultivate holy dependency.
This simply means that you are utterly and completely dependent upon God for anything significant to happen.
6. Absorb distractions with gratitude.
Don’t let noise or talking anger you and pull you out of the proper attitude for worship. Take the distraction as a blessing from the Lord and use prayer to refocus on your worship.
7. Learn to offer a sacrifice of worship.
Worship is a sacrifice of time and effort. There are times you will not “feel” like worshipping. Do it anyway. Offer your time as a sacrificial offering to the Lord.
Worship is an act of obedience to God. Understanding this keeps worship from becoming a “drug” you use to escape from the world. In fact, true worship will cause you to confront your sin and will propel you into the world for divine service.
Authentic worship will cause you to say “Here am I! Send me.” (Isa. 6:8).
Foster writes: “Authentic worship will impel us to join in the Lamb’s war against demonic powers everywhere—on the personal level, on the social level, on the institutional level. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is our Commander-in-Chief. We receive his orders for service and go …” (Celebration of Discipline, Foster, p. 173).
* These are taken from Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster