At times, during a time of worship, we can experience a sense of the majesty, power and love of God. Sometimes this can lead to joyful and enthusiastic singing. At other times it has led to silent adoration or to the conviction of sin. Why is it that this does not happen regularly in Church? Here are some thoughts
Worship should be centred on God
How many times have we said “I enjoyed that service – it was good” or “I didn’t get much out of that service.” This is all very well, but the most important thing is “Did God enjoy that service?” “Did He get much out of it?” We should think of our worship as an offering to God. Is it always a very worthy offering? We ought to come to worship with the thought in our mind. We are coming to offer our praise, thanksgiving, confession and petition to God.
We also need to learn how to adore God – to tell Him just how much we feel about him; how great, loving and holy he is; what infinite power He has. An example of adoration is in the Communion Service –“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.”
At the turn of the century an ex-Roman Catholic was asked, “Do you ever regret having left the Church of Rome?” “Never,” was the emphatic reply, “In Protestantism I found an open Bible, the personal knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of my sins -three things I never found in Rome.” “But,” he added, “I must confess there is one thing in Catholicism which I miss in our Protestant Churches, and that is adoration.” And still there is truth in this.
Worship should be helpful to people
Notice, I put this second. The relevance of our worship to people is secondary although still very important. There should be such a sense of God about our worship that outsiders coming in should be brought to faith (l Cor. 11:24-25). We have known people be brought to Christ largely through the sincerity and warmth of the worship and fellowship in services.
Some folk think worship should always be quiet and restrained. Maybe they feel it is wrong to show enthusiasm even if they feel it. I disagree wholeheartedly. We are meant to encourage one another in worship, not just have our private prayers in public. What encouragement is there in mumbling the prayers and responses, or singing halfheartedly? As fellow members of the Body of Christ we are to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25) and this includes encouraging one another to worship. Is the way I worship encouraging other people to worship? The Psalmist was constantly encouraging other people to worship. After all the word “Hallelujah” means “Praise the Lord” and this is addressed to other people (see Psalms 148,149, 150. 95 Venite, 96, 98 Cantate).
We need to remember that modern people find old fashioned language unintelligible and even amusing. For example many people I talk to have been put off the Bible because, they only know the Authorized Version.
Worship should be disciplined in approach
We must prepare ourselves more for worship. This means at home before we come as well as in church before the service. It is good to have a short time of silence immediately before the service. Chatting to friends can be done afterwards. Worship depends very much on individual spirituality. Do you draw close to God and get right with him before the service? And determine to join fully in the worship. I know from experience that to ‘opt out’ of the most inspiring worship can make one feel most uncomfortable and depressed.
Those of us who lead the worship must also offer nothing but the best to God. Our leading, praying, choice of hymns, reading, preaching must be first rate spiritually and technically.
Finally remember that real inspiration to worship is the Holy Spirit. It is only as we yield totally to His control in our lives that our worship will approach what it should be. Therefore to be practical before every service let us all yield to the Holy Spirit by asking Him to inspire us.
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction