I remember reading this quote years ago in Stormie Omartian’s book, “The Power of a Praying Woman“.
“It amazed me that confusion, oppression, fear, or anxiety couldn’t exist in the heart of a worshipping child of God.”
She says she eventually got free from depression completely… because of worship. She went on to say:
“Nothing we do is more powerful or more life-changing than praising God. It is one of the means by which God transforms us. Every time we praise and worship Him, His presence comes to dwell in us and changes our hearts and allows the Holy Spirit to soften and mold them into whatever He wants them to be.”
This sounds amazing but likely unbelievable to those of us who fade away during worship at church or can easily tune out or miss the amazing words being sung over us from the radio.
What is she understanding about worship that can get lost in an age that identifies worship as a playlist on Spotify and sometimes nothing more?
Worship is so much more than a good song or a pretty sunset. I think we’d get that answer right if we were asked on a test on in Sunday School, but what does worship actually look like?
What determines how we worship? I think a few things:
1. The posture of our hearts
2. What we believe about God
3. How we act upon what we believe about God
- What do you know to be true of worship itself?
- Why do we worship?
- Is it for me? Is it for God?
- Is it extra or commanded?
- Is it an outflow or something I actively pursue?
How we answer these questions sets up the posture with which we approach worship. I’m not here to answer all these things for you completely, but I encourage you to think seriously about them. Pray for the Lord to search your heart if there’s anything we’re misunderstanding or ignoring.
Here are a few thoughts:
1. Worship is focused on the Creator and not the created.
“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” – Romans 1:25
A.W. Tozer said, “Most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors putting on a home talent show.”
I think this sentiment highlights a danger with the growing production of worship. If we keep growing the level of production to attract crowds (as opposed to a form of worship itself), it’s forgetting the fragrance of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
There’s nothing inherently bad with a big production, but that can’t be what draws believers in. It has to be God Himself. Otherwise, we shouldn’t be surprised if a bad singer, too bright lights, or “low quality” worship takes the wind out of our sails.
Are we merely seeking a worship experience or are we seeking God himself?
We can do the same thing with a pretty sunset that we do with a worship experience. This one hit me haaaard.
Tozer says, “The worshiper must submit to truth, or he can’t worship God. He can write poems and he can get elevations of thought when he sees a sunrise… He can do all sorts of things, but he can’t worship God acceptably because to do so means that he’s got to submit to the truth about God. He’s got to admit that God is who He is and what He says He is… And he’s got to admit the truth about himself, that he’s as bad a sinner as God says he is.”
2. Worship comes from a place of knowing we desperately need God.
Humility sets up a posture of worship. Without humility, without acknowledging that we fully need God and are nothing without Him, we cannot come to God in worship. We come to Him as a peer instead.
Are you willing to worship someone else?
3. Worship flows out of a joyful heart.
“Any man or woman on this earth who is bored or turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.” – Tozer
How do I currently feel about worship and does this tell me anything about how I may be missing something in worship?
Seriously, Tozer does not sugarcoat anything. If worship bores us, that could mean we’re either bored with God or bored with what we assume to be worship. And I promise you this, God is anything up boring so let’s look at the next aspect, looking at who God is.
- Who am I responding to?
- How big is my God?
- Does He care about my response?
“And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death.” -Exodus 19:10-12
This passage gives me a visual of such a powerful and mighty God. The idea of worshipping this God has me on the verge of tears. He’s the same God I get to worship every day of the week, but His power can be lost on me.
Tozer said “You know what we’ve done? We’ve brought God down until nobody can respect Him anymore.”
We’ve tried to understand Him so much that we’ve made Him smaller than He is. It’s hard to comprehend how a loving God could say that anyone who touches the mountain is to be put to death so we soften the edges of His power. What we see as mean is sheer holiness that we simply cannot comprehend.
Do we take worship seriously enough? This reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.
“He isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Have I softened God so I feel comfortable with Him?
Psalm 63:3-4 – Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
What’s our response to all this?
I heard Louie Giglio preach an amazing sermon on this idea this summer. Giglio calls worship “an echo reflecting back to God what He’s given me.”
Worship is an echo because we cannot truly worship on our own. It must be a response to something, but sin creates a tension of wanting to praise so many things other than God.
Worship requires sacrifice and obedience even when it’s hard.
Hebrews 13:15 says “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
We said that worship is an echo, so what are we responding to?
Jesus’ death on the cross to cover our sins and save us from a lifetime of separation from God. The greatest sacrifice.
Does my worship echo that? If I REALLY thought about God’s sacrifice would my response be bigger?
Giglio says to “Define the circumstances by the character of God instead of defining God by the circumstances. Circumstances block our view of God.”
This is a sacrifice of praise because, in those circumstances where it’s hard to see the good, we’re called to trust God and not define HIM by the circumstance.
Praise might be easy when life looks just how you hoped it would be, but when things don’t go as planned, can we still praise Him?
We worship in everyday life by framing our circumstances by God’s character instead of spending all our energy thinking about (AKA worshipping) the circumstance. Worship continues when I can praise Him and see everything in light of who He is.
Giglio shared this story from Acts 16:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.’ The jailer told Paul, ‘The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.’
Giglio said, “In the prison, what changed the moment was not power or a good argument but WORSHIP.”
We exist to reflect God’s glory. In this story, we see that they worshipped God despite their circumstances and the jailer took witness and asked how he could be saved AND GOD WAS GLORIFIED.
May our lives be an echo so loud that the world takes notice, not of us but of the God we reflect.
This article originally appeared on Val Marie Paper. You can find this, and other blog posts by Val here.