Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin. –William Temple
Prayer in the midst of any situation does amazing things, including an ego battle. A new friend recently brought me to my knees during worship practice at a local church when she said that we should stop everything we’re doing currently and pray. We needed it.
In a heated moment of argument, leadership clash and tension so thick you could cut it with a knife, the majority of our group stood back as that moment unfolded, hoping that the worst would soon be over. We all wondered how we had gotten here. This was the last place I wanted to be; the last situation I wanted to find myself in. In my silent caution, I felt that I had
failed in bringing God back to the center of this practice when my friend, in boldness, put down her foot and graciously stated that we needed to stop and pray.
The room filled with silence and I literally felt my heart shudder in agreement as His calmness washed over me.
This wasn’t what worship was supposed to be about. It shouldn’t be about our individual agendas, where we think this piece of music would fit or who we think should lead the next song or how it should go. It’s not about who has the best talent or who could possibly be the better leader. It’s not about us.
It’s about God and only Him.
And all too easily, we let our egos get in the way.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to assist in the facilitation of worship the last eight years of my life. I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into when I walked across a dark college campus to Rotunda D for my first CRU meeting. That brisk fall evening, God thwarted my plans and called me to an eternal daily submission to Him in the form of reverent worship. That night borne a new, deep and vital interest in me; an interest to know my Savior on a deeper, more intimate level and a wonder as to what that would like lived out in my life. I was hungry for worship.
In the years since, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to truly worship and through it, God has molded into the woman I currently am. While I cannot go into depth and detail now on all that I’ve learned as it would take quite some time to get through it all, I would like to touch on a few things.
Worship comes in many forms: praise/singing, prayer, giving, serving, living…and so on. I’ve discovered that real, authentic worship is only lived out when a life is changed or transformed. Worship accomplishes this if the person doing these acts isn’t simply going through the motions just so they can check something off their to-do lists. It’s hard to change focus in our American can-do culture. God requires surrender and He asks that we give Him three things: body, mind and will.
God asks for my body. The body of a Christian is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and is to be used as a tool by God (Romans 6:13). According to Warren Wiersbe, author of Real Worship, “worship must not stop with a personal mystical experience. It must lead to a practical ministry experience, what we do with our bodies brings help to others and honor to God.”
God asks for my mind. Worship also involves discernment. One author states “all Christian worship, public and private, should be an intelligent response to God’s self-revelation in his words and those recorded in Scripture” (Dr. John Stott). The Word of God comes with the power to renew and transform us.
God asks for my will. Christianity is centered on the will and not feelings. Christian love isn’t primarily a feeling; it’s an act of the will. It’s what we do, not how we feel.
Worship is about being in awe of the One who created me and what He did for me…not what I can do for Him. Without that wonder, I become a slave. With it, I am free. I am able to live in such a way that transforms everything I experience while I am being transformed by the only One who can transform. This realization then posed the question that if God is infinite,
how can I even express my praise in words as I am severely limited in comparison? After much prayer and study of scripture, I’ve since learned that in God giving Himself in human form crossed that bridge. He expressed divine thoughts in a language that we can understand.
God has taught me a great deal about submission. Being the oldest of four, I naturally want to lead. During the last several years, I’ve had the privilege to be on a several different worship teams – through CRU, my home church and Oasis, the latter having changed leadership several times. Yes, God calls us to submit to Him. But I’ve discovered that not only must I submit
to Him, but I need to submit to the worship leader and following his/her lead.
It’s not enough to sing on Sunday morning “This is my Father’s world” and then live the rest of the week as though I am in charge. I’ve come to understand what it means to live my life in such a way that exalts Him daily, not just on Sundays or at weekend services. It occurs daily. Worship is a lifestyle. He’s tested me and molded my gifts into what they are currently.
Now that I think about it, He’s still testing and molding me…all the time. I have found joy in the fact that this won’t end until I breathe my last in this world. It’s a humble place to be.
To be transformed, we have to spend time with that person or thing that has the power to influence you. God has more than enough of that power. Worship requires that we hang out with God. Are you willing to set aside your differences, your agenda, to do that?
I do not worship Him because of what He
will do for me, but because of what He is to me.